Skip to main content

Full text of "A Buddhist catechism"

See other formats




^ Publication Division 
135, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7 

Nam6 fossa Bhagavatd Arahatd SammS 





Approved and recommended for use in Buddhist 
Schoolsby H. SUMANGALA, Pradhana Nayaka 
Sthavira, High Priest of Sripada and the Western 
Province and Principal of the Vidyodaya Pirrftna 

Publications Division 
Ministry of Cultural Affairs 

135, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7 
Sri Lanka 



A 4ttftO 2,518 (80/04) 


IN token of respect and affection I dedicate to my 
counsellor and friend of many years, Hikkaduwe 
Sumangala, Pradhana Nayaka Sthavira and High Priest 
of Adam s Peak (Sripada) and the Western Province, 
THE BUDDHIST CATECHISM, in its revised form. 

ADYAR, 1903. 



IN the working out of my original plan, I have added 
more questions and answers in the text of each new 
English edition of the Catechism, leaving it to its 
translators to render them in to whichever of the other 
vernaculars they may be working in. The unpretending 
aim in view is to give so succinct and yet comprehensive 
a digest of Buddhistic history, ethics and philosophy as 
to enable beginners to understand knd appreciate the 
noble ideal taught by the Budcjha, and thus make it 
easier for them to follow out the Dharma in its details. 
In the present edition a great many new questions and 
answers have been introduced, while the matter has been 
grouped within five categories, viz. : (1) The Life of the 
Buddha ; (2) the Doctrine ; (3) the Sangha, or monastic 
order ; (4) a brief history of Buddhism, its Councils and 
propaganda ; (5) some reconciliation of Buddhism with 
science. This, it is believed, will largely increase the 
value of the little book, and make it even more suitable 
for use in Buddhist schools, of which, in Ceylon, over 
one hundred have already been opened by the Sinhalese 
people under the general supervision of the Theosophical 
Society. In preparing this edition I have received 
valuable help from some of my oldest and best 
qualified Sinhalese colleagues. The original edition 
was gone over with me word by word, by that 
eminent scholar and bhikkhu, H. Sumangala, Pracjhana 
Nayaka, and the Assistant Principal of his Pali College 
at Colombo, Heyantuduve Anunayaka Terunnanse ; 


and the High Priest has also kindly scrutinised the present 
revision and given me invaluable points to embody. It 
has the merit, therefore, of being a fair presentation of 
the Buddhism of the "Southern Church," chiefly derived 
from first-hand sources. The Catechism has been 
published in twenty languages, mainly by Buddhists, 
for Budcjhists. 

H. S. O. 

ADYAR, llth May, 1897. 


Colombo, 1th July, 1881. 

I HEREBY certify that I have carefully examined the 
Sinhalese version of the Catechism prepared by Colonel 
H. S. Olcott, and that the same is in agreement with 
the Canon of the Southern Buddhist Church. I re 
commend the work to teachers in Buddhist schools, 
and to all others who may wish to impart information 
to beginners about the essential features of our religion. 


High Priest ofSripatfa and Galle, 
and Principal of the Vidyofaya 

April!, 1897. 

I HAVE gone over the thirty-third (English) edition of the 
Catechism, with the help of interpreters, and confirm 
my recommendation for its use in Buddhist schools^ 




THE popularity of this little work is proved by the 
constant demand for new editions, in English and other 
languages. In looking over the matter for the present 
edition, I have found very little to change or to add, for 
the work seems to present a very fair idea of the contents 
of Southern Buddhism ; and, as my object is never to 
write an extended essay on the subject, I resist the 
temptation to wander off into amplifications of details 
which, however interesting to the student of comparative 
religion, are useless in a rational scheme of elementary 

The new Sinhalese version (38th edition) which is being 
prepared by my respected friend, D. B. Jayatilaka, 
Principal of Ananda (Budcjhist) College, Colombo, is 
partly printed, but cannot be completed until he is 
relieved of some of the pressure upon his time. The 
Tamil version (41st edition) has been undertaken by 
the leaders of the Panchama community of Madras, 
and will shortly issue from the press. The Spanish 
version (39th edition) is in the hands of my friend, 
Sehor Xifre, and the French one (37th edition) in those 
of Commandant Courmes. 

I am afraid we shall have to wait long for this help 
to come from the Bu4dhist bhikkhus, almost the only 
learned men of Ceylon ; at least I have not been able 
during an intimate intercourse of twenty-two years, to 


arouse their zeal. It has always seemed to me incon 
gruous that an American, making no claims at all to 
scholarship, should be looked to by the Sinhalese to 
help them teach the (Jharma to their children ; and 
as I believe I have said in an earlier edition, I only 
consented to write THE BUDDHIST CATECHISM after 
I had found that no bhikkhu would undertake it. 
Whatever its demerits, I can at least say that the work 
contains the essence of some 15,000 pages of Butjtfhist 
teaching that I have read in connexion with my work. 

H. S. O. 

1th February, 1903. 




THE writer of this Catechism has passed away from 
earth, but, before he left the body, he had arranged 
with the High Priest Sumangala to make some small 
corrections in the text. These are incorporated in the 
present edition by the High Priest s wish, expressed to 
me in Colombo, in November, 1907. 

I have not altered the numbering of the questions 
as it might cause confusion in a class to change the 
numbers, if some pupils had the older editions and 
some the new. 

lltk February, \9W. 



THE popularity of this little work seems undiminished, 
edition after edition being called for. While the pre 
sent one was in the press a second German edition, 
re-translated by the learned Dr. Erich Bischoff, was 
published at Leipzig, by the Griebens Co., and a 
third translation into French, by my old friend and 
colleague, Commandant. D.. A. Courmes, was being got 
ready at Paris. A fresh version: in Sinhalese is also 
preparing at Colombo. It is very gratifying to a de 
clared Buddhist like myself to read what so ripe a 
scholar as Mr. G. R. S. Mead, author of Fragments of 
a Faith Forgotten, Pistis Sophia, and many other 
works on Christian origins, thinks of the value of the 
compilation. He writes in the Theosophical Review : 
" It has been translated into no less than twenty v dif- 
ferent languages, and may be said without J;jie faint 
est risk of contradiction, to have been the busiest 
instrument of Buddhist propaganda for many a day in 
the annals of that long somnolent dharma. The least 
that learned Buddhists of Ceylon can do to repay the 
debt of gratitude they owe to Colonel Olcott and, 
other members of the Theosophical Society who have 
worked for them, is to bestir themselves to throw some 
light on their own origins and doctrines. " 

So the work goes on, and by this unpretending 
agency the teachings of the Buddha Dharma are being 
carried throughout the world. 

H. S. O. 

ADYAR, 1th January, 1905. 







APPENDIX The Fourteen Propositions accepted by 
the Northern and Southern Buddhists as a 

Platform of Unity 88 





1. Question. Of what religiorf- are you ? 
Answer. The Budcjhist. 

ir The word "religion" is most inappropriate to apply to Buddhism 
which is not a religion, but a moral philosophy, as I have shown 
later on. But by common usage the word has been applied to all 
groups of people who profess a special moral doctrine, and is so 
employed by statisticians. The Sinhalese Bu44hists have never 
yet had any conception of what Europeans imply in the etymolo 
gical construction of the Latin root of this term. In their cre*I 
there is no such thing as a "binding" in the Christian sense a 
submission to or merging of self in a Divine Being. Agama is 
their vernacular word to express their relation to Bu<J<Jhism and 
the BUDDHA. It is pure Samskrt, and means "approach, or 
coming" ; and as "Buddha" is enlightenment, the compound word 
by which they indicate Buddhism Bua a hagama would be pro 
perly rendered as "an approach or coming to enlightenment," 
or possibly as a following of the Doctrine of S!KYAMUNI. The 
missionaries, finding Agama ready to their hand, adopted it as the 
equivalent for " religion " ; and Christianity is written by them 
Christiandgama, whereas it should be Christianibantfhana, for 
barujhana is the etymological equivalent for "religion". The 
name Vibhajja vadt one who analyses is another name given 
to a Buddhist, and Adbayuraa"! is a third. With this explanation, I 
continue to employ under protest the familiar word when speaking 
of Buddhistic philosophy, for the convenience of the ordinary 


2. Q. What is Buddhism ? 

A. It is a body of teachings given out by 
the great personage known as the Budtjha. 

3. Q. Is "Buddhism" the best name for this 
teaching ? 

A. No ; that is only a western term : the 
best name for it is Bauddha Dharma. 

4. Q. Would you call a person a Buddhist who 
had merely been born of Buddhist parents ? 

A. Certainly not. A Buddhist is one who not 
only professes belief in the Buddha as the noblest of 
Teachers, in the Doctrine preached by Him, and in 
the Brotherhood of Arhats, but practises His precepts 
in daily life. 

5. Q. What is a male lay Buddhist called ? 
A. An Upasaka. 

6. Q. What a female ? 
A. An Upasika. 

7. Q. When was this doctrine first preached ? 

A. There is some disagreement as to the actual 
date, but accoiding to the Sinhalese Scriptures it was 
in the year 2513 of the (present) Kali-Yuga. 

8. Q. Give the important dates in the last birth 
of the Founder ? 

A. He was born under the constellation Visa 
on a Tuesday in May, in the year 2478 (K.Y.) ; he 
retired to the jungle in the year 2506 ; became 
Bud<Jha in 2513 ; and, passing out of the round of re 
births, entered Paranirvana in the year 2558, aged 


eighty years. Each of these events happened on a 
day of full moon, so all are conjointly celebrated in 
the great festival of the full-moon of the oronth Wesak 
Vaisdkha) corresponding to the month of May. 

9. Q. Was the Buddha God ? 

A. No. Buddha Dharma teaches no " divine " 

10. Q. Was he a man ? 

A. Yes ; but the wisest, noblest and most holy 
being, who had developed himself in the course of 
countless births far beyond all other beings, the pre 
vious BUDDHAS alone excepted. 

11. Q. Were there other Buddhas before him ? 
A. Yes ; as will be explained later on. 

12. Q. Was Buddha his name ? 

A* No. It is the name of a condition or state 
of mind, of the mind after it has reached the culmina 
tion of development. 

13. Q. What is its meaning ? 

A. Enlightened ; or, he who has the all-perfect 
wisdom. The Pali phrase is Sabbannu, the One of 
Boundless Knowledge. In Samskrt it is Sarvajna. 

14. Q. What was the Buddha s real name then ? 

A. SIDDHARTHA was his royal name, and 
GAUTAMA, or OOTAMA, his family name. He was Prince 
of Kapilavastu and belonged to the illustrious family 
of the Okkaka, of the Solar race., 


15. Q. Who were his father and mother ? 

A. King Sucjcjhocjana and Queen Mayft, called 
Maha Maya. 

16. Q. What people did this King reign over ? 

A. The Sakyas ; and Aryan tribe of Kshattriyas . 

17. Q. Where was Kapilavastu ? 

A. In India, one hundred miles north-east of 
the City of Benares, and about forty miles from the 
Himalaya mountains. It is situated in the Nepal Terai. 
The city is now in ruins. 

18. Q. On what river ? 

A. The Rohini, now called the Rohana. 

19. Q. Tell me again when Prince Sitfdhartha was 
born ? 

A. Six hundred and twenty-three years before 
the Christian era. 

20. Q. Is the exact spot known ? 

A. It is now identified beyond question. An 
archaeologist in the service of the Government of India 
has discovered in the jungle of the Nepal Terai a 
stone pillar erected by the mighty Bu44&i st sovereign, 
Asoka, to mark the very spot. The place was known 
in those times as the Lumbini Garden. 

21 . Q. Had the Prince luxuries and splendours likt 
other Princes ? 

A. He had ; his father, the King, built him 
tiiree magnificient palaces- for the three Indian seasons 
the cold, the hot, and the rainy of nine, five, and 
three stories respectively, and handsomely decorated. 


22. Q. How were they situated ? 

A. Around each palace were gardens of the 
most beautiful and fragrant flowers, with fountains of 
spouting water, the trees full of singing birds, and 
peacocks strutting over the ground. 

23. Q. Was he living alone ? 

A. No ; in his sixteenth year he was married 
to the Princess Yasodhara, daughter of the King 
Suprabuddha. Many beatuiful maidens, skilled in 
dancing and music, were also in continual attendance 
to amuse him. 

24. Q. How did he get his wife ? 

A. In the ancient Kshattriya or warrior 
fashion, by overcoming all competitiors in games and 
exercises of skill and prowess, and then selecting, 
Yaso<Jhara out of all the young princesses, whose 
fathers had brought them to the tournament or 

25. Q. How, amid all this luxury, could a Prince 
become all-wise ? 

A. He had such natural wisdom that when but 
a child he seemed to understand all arts and sciences 
almost without study. He had the best teachers, but 
they could teach him nothing that he did not seem to 
comprehend immediately. 

26. Q. Did he become Buddha in his splendid 
palaces ? 

A. No. He left all and went alone into the 

27. Q. Why did he do this ? 


A. To discover the cause of our sufferings 
and the way to escape from them. 

28. Q. Was it not selfishness that made him do 
this ? 

A. No ; it was boundless love for all beings 
that made him devote himself to their good. 

29. Q. But how did he acquire this boundless love ? 
A. Throughout numberless births and aeons of 

years he had been cultivating this love, with the 
unfaltering determination to become a Bu44ha. 

30. Q. What did he this time relinquish ? 

A. His beautiful palaces, his riches, luxuries 
and pleasures, his soft beds, fine dresses, rich food, 
and his kingdom ; he even left his beloved wife and 
only son, Rahula. 

31. Q. Did any other man ever sacrifice so much 
for our sake ? 

A. Not one in this present world -period : this is 
why Buddhists so love him, and why good Buddhists 
try to be like him. 

32. Q. But have not many men given up all earthly 
blessings, and even life itself, for the sake of their 
fellow-men ? 

A. Certainly. But we believe that this surpas" 
sing unselfishness and love for humanity showed them" 
selves in his renouncing the bliss of Nirvana countless 
ages ago, when he was born as the Brahmana 
Sumedha, in the time of Dipankara Bu<J4h a * he had 
then reached the stage where he might have entered 
Nirvana, had he not loved mankind more than him- 


self. This renunciation implied his voluntarily endur 
ing the miseries of earthly lives until he became 
Bu4dha, for the sake of teaching all beings the way 
to emancipation and to give rest to the world. 

33. Q. How old was he when he went to the jungle ? 
A. He was in his twenty-ninth year. 

34. Q. What finally determined him to leave all 
that men usually love so much and go to the jungle ? 

A. A Deva 1 appeared to him when driving 
out in his chariot, under four impressive forms, on 
four different occasions. 

35. Q. What were these different forms ? 

A. Those of a very old man broken down by 
age, of a sick man, of a decaying corpse, and of a 
dignified hermit. 

36. Q. Did he alone see these ? 

A. No, his attendant, Channa , also saw them. 

37. Q. Why should these sights, so familiar to 
everybody, have caused him to go to the jungle ? 

A. We often see such sights : he had not seen 
them, so they made a deep impression on his mind. 

38. Q. Why had he not also seen them ? 

A. The Brahmana astrologers had foretold at 
his birth that he would one day resign his kingdom and 
become a BUDDHA. The King, his father, not wishing 
to lose an heir to his kingdom, had carefully prevent 
ed his seeing any sights that might suggest to him 

1 See the definition of tfeva given later. 


human misery and death. No one was allowed even 
to speak of such things to the Prince. He was almost 
like a prisoner in his lovely palaces and flower gardens. 
They were surrounded by high walls, and inside 
everything was made as beautiful as possible, so that 
he might not wish to go and see the sorrow and distress 
that are in the world. 

39. Q. Was he so kind-hearted that the King 
feared he might really wish to leave everything for the 
world s sake ? 

A. Yes ; he seems to have felt for all beings 
so strong a pity and love as that. 

40. Q. And how did he expect to learn the cause 
of sorrow in the jungle ? 

A. By removing far away from all that could 
prevent his thinking deeply of the causes of sorrow 
and the nature of man. 

41. Q. How did he escape from the palace ? 

A. One night, when all were asleep, he arose, 
took a last look at his sleeping wife and infant son ; 
called Channa, mounted his favourite white horse 
Kanthaka, and rode to the palace gate. The pevas 
had thrown a deep sleep upon the King s guard who 
watched the gate, so that they could not hear the noise 
of the horse s hoofs. 

42. Q. But the gate was locked, was it not ? 

A. Yes ; but the pevas caused it to open 
without the slightest noise, and he rode away into the 


43. Q. Whither did he go ? 

A. To the river Anoma, a long way from, 

44. Q. What did he then do ? 

A. He sprang from his horse, cut off his 
beautiful hair with his sword, put on the yellow dress 
of an ascetic, and giving his ornaments and horse to 
Channa, ordered him to take them back to his father 
the King. 

45. Q. What then ? 

A. He went afoot towards Rajagraha, the 
capital city of King Bimbisara, of Magadha. 

46. Q. Who visited him there ? 

A. The King with his whole Court. 1 

46a. Q. Thence whither did he go ? 

A. To Uruvela, near the present Mahabo<Jhi 
Temple at Buddha Gaya. 

47. Q. Why did he go there ? 

A. In the forests were hermits^very wise 
men, whose pupil he afterwards became, in the hope 
of finding the knowledge of which he was in search. 

48. Q. Of what religion were they ? 

A. The Hindu religion : they were 
Brahmanas 2 . 

1 For an admirable account of this interview consult Dr. Paul 
Cams Gospel ofBucfflha, page 20, et seq. 

2 The term Hindu, once a contemptuous term, used by the 
Musaknans to designate the people of Sindh, whom they conquered, 
is now used in an ecclesiastical sense. 


49. Q. What did they teach ? 

A. That by severe penances and torture of 
the body a man may acquire perfect wisdom. 

50. Q. Did the Prince find this to be so ? 

A. No ; he learned their systems and practis 
ed all their penances, but he could not thus discover 
the cause of human sorrow and the way to absolute 

51 . Q. What did he then do ? 

A. He went away into the forest near Uruvela, 
and spent six years in deep meditation, undergoing 
the severest discipline in mortifying his body. 

52. Q. Was he alone ? 

A. No ; five Brahman companions attended 

53. Q. What were their names ? 

A. Kondanna, Bhad<Jiya, Vappa, Mahanama, 
and Assaji. 

54. Q. What plan of discipline did he adopt to 
open his mind to know the whole truth ? 

A. He sat and meditated, concentrating his 
mind upon, the higher problems of life, and shutting 
out from his sight and hearing all that was likely to 
interrupt his inward reflections. 

55. Q. Did he fasti 

A. Yes, through the whole period. He took 
less and less food and water until, it is said, he ate 
scarcely more than one grain of rice or of sesamum 
seed each day. 


56. Q. Did this give him the wisdom he longed for ? 
A. No. He grew thinner and thinner in body 

and fainter in strength until, one day ,as he was slowly 
walking about and meditating, his vital force suddenly 
left him and he fell to the ground unconscious. 

57. Q. What did his companions think of that ? 

A. They fancied he was dead ; but after a time 
he revived. 

58. Q. What then ? 

A. The thought came to him that knowledge 
could never be reached by mere fasting or bodly 
suffering, but must be gained by the opening of the 
mind. He had just barely escaped death from self- 
starvation, yet had not obtained the Perfect Wisdom 
So he decided to eat, that he might live at least long 
enough to become wise. 

59. Q. Who gave him food ? 

A. He received food from Sujata, a nobleman s 
daughter, who saw him sitting at the foot of a 
nyagrocjha (banyan) tree. He arose, took his alms- 
bowl, bathed in the river Neranjara, ate the food, 
and went into the jungle. 

60. Q. What did he do there ? 

A. Having formed his determination after 
these reflections, he went at evening to the Bodhi, or 
Asvattha tree, where the present Mahabo<Jhi Temple 

61. Q. What did he do there ? 

A. He determined not to leave the spot until 
he attained perfact wisdom. 


62. Q. At which side of the tree did he seat him 

A. The side facing the east. 1 

63. Q. What did he obtain that night ? 

A. The knowledge of his previous births, of 
the causes of rebirths, and of the way to extinguish 
desires. Just before the break of the next day his 
mind was entirely opened, like the full blown lotus 
flower ; the light of supreme knowledge, or the Four 
Truths, poured in upon him. He had become BUUDDHA 
the Enlightened, the all-knowing the Sarvajna. 

64. Q. Had he at last discovered the cause of 
human misery ? 

A. At last he had . As the light of the morning 
sun chases away the darkness of night, and reveals to 
sight the trees, fields, rocks, seas, rivers, animals, 
men and all things, so the full light of knowledge rose 
in his mind, and he saw at one glance the causes of 
human suffering and the way to escape from them. 

65. Q. Had he great struggles before gaming 
this perfect wisdom ? 

A. Yes, mighty and terrible struggles. He had 
to conquer in his body all those natural defects and 
human appetites and desires that prevent our seeing 

1 No reason is given in the canonical books for the choice of this 
side of the tree, though an explanation is to be found in the popular 
legends upon which the books of Bishop Bigandet and other 
European comuientratos are based. There are always certain 
influences coming upon us from the different quarters of the sky. 
Sometimes the influence from one quarter will be best, sometimes 
that from another quarter. But the Buddha thought that the 
perfected man is superior to all extraneous influences. 


the truth. He had to overcome all the bad influences 
of the sinful world around him. Like a soldier fight 
ing desperately in battle against many enemies, he 
struggled : like a hero who conquers, he gained his 
object, and the secret of human misery was dis 

66. Q. What use did he make of the knowledge 
thus gained ? 

A. At first he was reluctant to teach it to 
the people at large. 

67. Q. Why ? 

A. Because of its profound importance and 
sublimity. He feared that but few people would 
understand it. 

68. Q. What made him alter this view ? 1 

A. He saw that it was his duty to teach what 
he had learnt as clearly and simply as possible, and 
trust to the truth impressing itself upon the popular 
mind in proportion to each one s individual Karma. 
It was the only way of salvation, and every being had 
an equal right to have it pointed out to him. So he 
determined to begin with his five late companions, 
who had abandoned him when he broke his fast. 

69. Q. Where did he find them ? 

A. In the deer-park at Isipatana, near Benares. 

70. Q. Can he spot be now identified 1 

A. Yes, a partly ruined stupa, or dagoba, is 
still standing on that very spot. 

1 The ancient story is that the God Brahma himself implored 
him not to withhold the glorious truth. 


71. Q. Did those five companions readily listen to 

A. At first, no ; but so great was the spiritual 
beauty of his appearance, so sweet and convincing 
his teaching, that they soon turned and gave him the 
closest attention. 

72. Q. What effect did this discourse have upon 
them ? 

A. The aged Kondanna, one Who "under 
stood " (Anna), was the first to lose his prejudices, 
accept the Buddha s teaching, become his disciple, and 
enter the Path leading to Arhatship. The other four 
soon followed his example. 

73. Q. Who were his next converts ? 

A. A rich young layman, named Yasa, and 
his father, a wealthy merchant. By the end of three 
months the disciples numbered sixty persons. 

74. Q. Who were the first women lay disciples ? 
A. The mother and wife of Yasa. 

75. Q. What did the Bud$ha do at that time ? x 
A. He called the disciples together, gave 

them full instructions, and sent them out in all directions 
to preach his doctrine. 

76. Q. What was the essence of it 1 

A. That the way of emancipation lies in 
leading the holy life and following the rules laid down, 
which will be explained later on. 

l Brahmanism not being offered to non-Hindus, Butftfhism is 
consequently, the oldest missionary religion in the world. The 
early missionaries endured every hardship, cruelty, and persecution, 
with unfaltering courage. 



77. Q. Tell me what name he goes to this course 
of life ? 

A. The Noble Eightfold Path. 

78. Q. How is it called in the Pall language ? 
A. Ariyo atthangiko maggo. 

79. Q. Whither did the Buddha then go ? 
A. To Uruvela 

80. Q. What happened there ? 

A. He converted a man named Kashyapa, 
renowned for his learning and teacher of the Jatilas, 
a great sect of fire-worshippers, all of whom became 
also his followers. 

81. Q. Who was his next great convert ? 
A. King Bimbisara, of Maga<Jha 

82. Q. Which two of the Buddha s most learned and 
beloved disciples were converted at about this time ? 

A. Sariputra and Moggallana, formerly chief 
disciples of Sanjaya, the ascetic. 

83. Q. For what did they become renowned ? 

A. Sariputra for his profound learning 
(Prajnd), Moggallana for his exceptional spiritual powers 

84. Q. Are these wonder-working powsrs mira- 
wlous ? 

A. No, but natural to all men and capable of 
being developed by a certain course of training. 


85. Q. Did the Buddha hear again from his family 
after leaving them ? 

A. Oh yes, seven years later, while he was 
leving at Rajagrha, his father King Suddhodana, sent 
a message to request him to come and let him see him 
again before he died. 

86. Q. Did he go ? 

A. Yes. His father went with all his relations 
and ministers to meet him and received him with great joy 


87. Q. Did he consent to resume his old rank ? 

A. No. In all sweetness he explained to his 
father that the Prince Sidtjhartha had passed out of 
existence, as such, and was now changed into the condi 
tion of a Bud<Jha, to whom all beings were equally akin 
and equally dear. Instead of ruling over one tribe or 
nation, like an earthly king, he, through his Dharma, 
would win the hearts of all men to be his followers. 

88. Q. Did he see Yasodhara his son Rahula ? 

A. Yes. His wife, who had mourned for him 
with deepest love, wept bitterly. She also sent Rahula 
to ask him to give him his inheritance, as the son of a 

89. Q. What happened ? 

A. To one and all he preached the Dharma as 
the cure for all sorrows. His father, son, wife, Anana 
(his half-brother), Deva4atta (his cousin and brother-in 
law), were all converted and became his disiciples. Two 
other famous ones were Anuru44^ a > afterwards a great 
metaphysician, and Upali, a barber, afterwards the 
greatest authority on Vinaya. Both of these gained 
great renown. 


90. Q. Who was the first Bhikkhum ? 

A. Prajapati, the aunt and foster-mother of 
Prince Siddhartha. With her, Yasodhara and many 
other ladies were admitted into the Order as Bhikkhunis 
or female devotees. 

91. Q. What effect did the taking up of the religious 
life by his sons, Siddhartha and Ananda, his nephew, 
Pevadatta, his son s wife, Yasodhara, and his grandson, 
Rdhula, have upon the old King Suddhodana ? 

A. It grieved him much and he complained to 
the Buddha, who then made it a rule of the Order that no 
person should thenceforth be ordained without the 
consent of his parents if alive. 

92. Q. Tell me about the fate ofQevadatta ? 

A. He was a man of great intelligence and 
rapidly advanced in the knowledge of the Dharma, but 
being also extremely ambitious, he came to envy and 
hate the Buddha, and at last plotted to kill him. He 
also influenced Ajatashatru, son of King Bimbisara, to 
murder his noble father, and to become his 
Devadatta s disciple. 

93. Q. Did he do any injury to the Buddha ? 

A. Not the least, but the evil he plotted against 
him recoiled upon himself, and he met with an awful 

94. Q. For how many years was the Bufyha 
engaged in teaching ? 

A. Forty-five years, during which time he 
preached a great many discourses. His custom and 
that of his disciples was to travel and preach during the 


eight dry months, but during the season of Was the 
rains he and they would stop in the pansulas and 
viharas which had been built for them by various kings 
and other wealthy converts. 

95. Q. Which were the most famous of these 
buildings ? 

A. Jetavanarama ; Veluvanarama ; Pubba- 
rama ; Nigrodharama and Isipatanarama. 

96. Q. What kind of people were converted by him 
and his disciples ? 

A. People of all ranks, nations and castes ; 
rajas and coolies, rich and poor, mighty and humble, 
the illiterate and the most learned. His doctrine was 
suited to all. 

97. Q. Give some account of the decease of the 
Buddha ? 

A. In the forty-fifth season after his attaining 
Buddhahood, on the full-moon day of May, knowing 
that his end was near, he came at evening to Kusinagara, 
a place about one hundred and twenty miles from 
Benares. In the sala grove of the Mallas, the 
Upavartana of Kusinagara, between two sala trees, 
he had his bedding spread with the head towards the 
north according to the ancient custom. He lay upon 
it, and with his mind perfectly clear, gave his final 
instructions to his disciples and bade them farewell. 

98. Q. Did he also make new converts in those last 
tours ? 

A. Yes, a very important one, a great Brahmana 
pandit named Subha^ra. He had also preached to the 
Malla princes and their followers. 


99. Q. At day-break what happened ? 

A. He passed into the interior condition of 
Samadhi and thence into Nirvana. 

100. Q. What were his last words to his disciples ? 

A. " Bhikkhus ", he said, " I now impress it 
upon you, the parts and powers of man must be 
dissolved. Work out your salvation with diligence ". 

101. Q. What convincing proof have we that the 
Budtfha, formerly Prince Siddhartha, was a historical 
personage ? 

A. His existence is apparently as clearly 
proved as that of any other character of ancient history. 

102. Q. Name some of the proofs ? 

A. (1) The testimony of those who personally 
knew him. 

(2) The discovery of places and the remains 
of buildings mentioned in the narrative of his time. 

(3) The rock-inscriptions, pillars and 
dagobas made in memory of him by sovereigns who 
were near enough to his time to be able to verify the 
story of his life. 

(4) The unbroken existence of the Sangha 
which he founded, and their possession of the facts of 
his life transmitted from generation to generation from 
the beginning. 


(5) The fact that in the very year of his 
death and at various times subsequently, conventions 
and councils of the Sangha were held, for the 
verification of the actual teachings of the Founder, and 
the handing down of those verified teachings from 
teacher to pupil, to the present day. 

(6) After his cremation his relics were divided 
among eight kings and a stupa was erected over each 
portion. The portion given to King Ajatashatru, and 
by him covered with a stupa at Rajagrha, was taken, 
less that two centuries ; later, by the Emperor Asoka and 
distributes throughout his Empire. He of course, had 
ample means of knowing whether the relics were those 
of the Buddha or not, since they had been in charge 
of the royal house of Patna from the beginning. 

(7) Many of the Buddha s disciples, being 
Arhats and thus having control over their vital powers, 
must have lived to great ages, and there was nothing 
to have prevented two or three of them, in succession 
to each other, to have covered the whole period 
between the death of the Buddha and the reign of Asoka, 
and thus to have enabled the latter to get from his 
contemporary every desired attestation of the fact of 
the Bucjdha s life. 1 

(8) The " Mahavansa, " the best authenticated 
ancient history known to us, records the events of 
Sinhalese history to the reign of King Vijaya, 543 B.C. 
almost the time of the Buddha and gives most 

*At the Second Council there were two pupils of Ananda, cons- 
sequently centenarians, while in Asoka s Council there were pupils 
of those pupils, 



particulars of his life, as well as those of the Emperor 
Asoka and all other sovereigns related to Buddhistic 

103. Q. By what names of respect is the Buddha 
called ? 

A. Sakyamuni (the Sakya Sage) ; Sakya- 
Simha (the Sakyan Lion) ; Sugata (the Happy One) ; 
Sattha (the Teacher) ; Jina (the Conqueror) ; Bhaga- 
vat (the Blessed One) ; Lokanatha (the Lord of the 
World) ; Sarvajfia (the Omniscient One) ; pliarmaraja 
(the King of Truth) ; Tathagata (the Great Being), 



106. Q. What is the meaning of the word Buddhat 

A. The enlightened, or he who has the 
perfect wisdom. 

107. Q. You have said that there were other 
Buddhas before this one ? 

A. Yes; our belief is that, under the opera 
tion of eternal causation, a Buddha takes birth at 
intervals, when mankind have become plunged into 
misery through ignorance, and need the wisdom which 
it is the function of a Buddha to teach. (See also 
Q. 11.) 

108. Q. How is a Buddha developed ? 

A. A person, hearing and seeing one of the 
Buddhas on earth, becomes seized with the determina 
tion so to live that at some future time, when he shall 
become fitted for it, he also will be a Buddha for the 
guiding of mankind out of the cycle of rebirth. 

109. Q. How does he proceed ? 

A. Throughout that birth and every suc 
ceeding one, he strives to subdue his passions, to gain- 
wisdom by experience, and to develop his higher facul 
ties. He thus grows by degrees wiser, nobler in 
character, and stronger in virtue until, finally, after 
numberless re-births he reaches the state when he can 
become Perfected, Enlightened, All-wise, the ideal 
Teacher of the human race. 


110. Q. While this gradual development is going on 
throughout all these births, by what name do we call him ? 

A. Bodhisat, or Bodhisattva. Thus the 
Prince Siddhartha Gautama was a Bodhisattva up to 
the moment when, under the blessed Bodhi tree at 
Gaya, he became Buddha. 

111. Q. Have we any account of his various rebirths 
as a Bodhisajtva ? 

A. In the Jdtakatthakatha, a book contain 
ing stories of the Bodhisattva s reincarnations there 
are several hundred tales of that kind. 

112. Q. What lesson do these stories teach ? 

A. That a man can carry, throughout a long 
series of reincarnations, one great good purpose 
which enables him to conquer bad tendencies and 
develop virtuous ones. 

113. Q. Can we fix the number of reincarnations 
through which a Bodhisattva must pass before he can 
become a Buddha ; 

A. Of course not : that depends upon his 
natural character, the state of development to which 
he has arrived when he forms the resolution to become 
a Buddha, and other things. 

114. Q. Have we a way of classifying Bddhisatt- 
vas ? If so, explain it. 

A. Bodhisattvas the future Buddhas are 
divided into three classes. 

115. Q. Proceed. How are these three kinds of 

named ? 

A. Pannadhika, or Udghatitajna "he who 
attains least quickly "; Saddhacjhika, or Vipachitajna 


"he who attains less quickly "; and Viryadhika, 
or Gneyya "he who attains quickly". The Pan- 
nacjhika Bodhisats take the course of Intelligence ; 
the Saddha^hika take the course of Faith ; the 
Viryadhika take the course of energetic Action. The 
first is guided by Intelligence and does not hasten ; 
the second is full of Faith, and does not care to take 
the guidance of Wisdom ; and the third never delays 
to do what is good. Regardless of the consequence 
to himself, he does it when he sees that it is best that it 
should be done. 

116. Q. When our Bodhisattva became Buddha, 
what did he see was the cause of human misery ? Tell 
me in one word. 

A. Ignorance (Avidyd). 
111. Q. Can you tell me the remedy ? 

A. To dispel Ignorance and become wise 

118. Q. Why does ignorance cause suffering ? 

A. Because it makes us prize what is not 
worth prizing, grieve when we should not grieve, 
consider real what is not real but only illusionary, 
and pass our lives in the pursuit of worthless objects, 
neglecting what is in reality most valuable. 

119. Q. And what is that which is most valuable ? 

A. To know the whole secret of man s 
existence and destiny, so that we may estimate at no 
more than their actual value this life and its relations ; 
and so that we may live in a way to ensure the great 
est happiness and the least suffering for our fellow-men 
and ourselves. 


120. Q. What is the light that can dispel this 
ignorance of ours and and remowe all sorrows ? 

A. The knowledge of the "Four Noble 
Truths," as the Buddha called them. 

121. Q. Name these Four Noble Truths ? 

A. 1. The miseries of evolutionary existence 
resulting in births and deaths, life after life. 

2. The cause productive of misery, which 
is the selfish desire, ever renewed, of satisfying on 
self, without being able ever to secure that end. 

3. The destruction of that desire, or the 
estranging of one s self from it. 

4. The means of obtaining this destruc 
tion of desire. 

122. Q. Tell me some things that cause sorrow ? 
A. Birth, decay, illness, death, separation 

from objects we love, association with those who 
are repugnant, craving for what cannot be 

123. Q. Do these differ with each individual ? 

A. Yes : but all men suffer from them in 

124. Q. How can we escape the sufferings which 
result from unsatisfied desires and ignorant cravings ? 

A. By complete conquest over, and destruc- 
tion of, this eager thirst for life and its pleasures, which 
causes sorrow. 

125. Q. How may we gain such a conquest ? 

A. By following the Noble Eight-fold Path 
which the Buddha discovered and pointed out. 


125. Q. what do you mean by that word : what 
is this Noble Eight-fold Path ? (For the Pali name see 
Q. 79). 

A. The eight parts of this path are called 
ahgas. They are : 1 . Right Belief (as to the law of 
Causation, or Karma) ; 2. Right Thought ; 3. Right 
Speech ; 4. Right Action ; 5. Right Means of Live 
lihood ; 6. Right Exertion ; 7. Right Remembrance 
and Self-discipline ; 8. Right Concentration of 
Thought. The man who keeps these angas in mind 
and follows them will be free from sorrow and 
ultimately reach salvation. 

127. Q. Can you give a better word for salvation ? 
A. Yes, emancipation. 

128. Q. Emancipation, then from what ? 

A. Emancipation from the miseries of earthly 
existence and of rebirths, all of which are due to 
ignorance and impure lusts and cravings. 

129. Q. And when this salvation or emancipation 
is attained^ what do we reach ? 


130. Q. What is Nirvana ? 

A. A condition of total cessation of changes, 
of perfect rest, of the absence of desire and illusion 
and sorrow, of the total obliteration of everything 
that goes to make up the physical man. Before 
reaching Nirvana man is constantly being reborn ; 
when he reaches Nirvana he is born no more. 


131. Q. Where can be found a learned discussion of 
the word Nirvana and a list of the other names by which 
the old Pall writers attempt to define it ? 

A. In the famous Dictionary of the Pall 
Language, by the late Mr. R. C. Childers, is a complete 
list. 1 

132. Q. But some people imagine that Nirvana is 
some sort of heavenly place, a Paradise. Does Buddhism 
teach that ? 

A. No. When Kutadanta asked the Buddha 
"Where is Nirvana," he replied that it was "wherever 
the precepts are obeyed " 

133. Q. What causes us to be reborn ? 

A. The unsatisfied selfish desire (Skt., trshna ; 
Pali, tanha) for things that belong to the state of 
personal existence in the material world. This 
unquenched thirst for physical existence (bhdva) is a 
force, and has a creative power in itself so strong that 
it draws the being back into mundane life. 

134. Q. Are our rebirths in any way affected by 
the nature of our unsatisfied desires ? 

A. Yes ; and by our individual merits or 

135. Q. Does our merit or demerit control the state, 
condition or form in which we shall be re-born ? 

A. It does. The broad rule is that if we 
have an excess of merit we shall be well and happily 

1 Mr. Childers takes a highly pessimistic view of the Nirvanic 
state, regarding it as annihilation. Later students disagree with 



born the next time ; if an excess of demerit, our next 
birth will be wretched and full of suffering. 

136. Q. One chief pillar of Buddhistic doctrine is, 
then, the idea that every effect is the result of an actual 
cause, is it not ? 

A. It is ; of a cause either immediate or 

137. Q. What do we call this causation ? 

A. Applied to individuals, it is Karma, that 
!s, action. It means that our own actions or deeds 
bring upon us whatever of joy or misery we 

138. Q. Can a bad man escape from the outwork- 
ings of his Karma ? 

A. The Dhammapada says : "There exist, 
no spot on the earth, or in the sky, or in the sea, 
neither is there any in the mountain-clefts, where an 
(evil) deed does not bring trouble (to the doer)." 

139. Q. Can a good man escape ? 

A. As the result of deeds of peculiar merit, 
a man may attain certain advantages of place, body, 
environment and teaching in his next stage of 
progress, which ward off the effects of bad Karma and 
help his higher evolution. 

140. What are they called ? 

A. Gati Sampatti, Upadhi Sampatti, Kala 
Sampatti and Payoga Sampatti. 


141. Q. Is that consistent or inconsistent with 
common sense and the teachings of modern science ? 

A. Perfectly consistent : there can be no 
doubt of it. 

142. Q. May all men become Buddhas ? 

A. It is not in the nature of every man to 
become a Buddha ; for a Buddha is developed only at 
long intervals of time, and seemingly, when the state 
of humanity absolutely requires such a teacher to 
show it the forgotten Path to Nirvana. But every 
being may equally reach Nirvana, by conquering 
Ignorance and gaining Wisdom. 

143. Q. Does Buddhism teach that man is reborn 
only upon our earth 1 

A. As a general rule that would be the 
case, until he had evolved beyond its level ; but the 
inhabited worlds are numberless. The world upon 
which a person is to have his next birth, as well as 
the nature of the rebirth itself, is decided by the 
preponderance of the individual s merit or demerit. 
In other words, it will be controlled by his attractions, 
as science would describe it ; or by his Karma, as we, 
Buddhists, would say. 

144. Q. Are there worlds more perfectly developed, 
and others less so than our Earth ? 

A. Buddhism teaches that there are whole 
Sakwalas, or systems of worlds, of various kinds, higher 
and lower, and also that the inhabitants of each world 
correspond in development with itself. 


145. Q. Has not the Buddha summed up his whole 
doctrine in one gatha, or verse ? 
A. Yes. 

145. Q. Repeat it ? 

A. Sabba papassa akaranam, 
Kusalassa upasampada 
Sachitta pariyodapanam 
Efam Buddhanusasanam. 

" To cease from all evil actions, 
To generate all that is good, 
To cleanse one s mind : 

This is the constant advice of the 
Buddhas ". 

147. Q. Have the first three of these lines any very 
striking characteristics ? 

A. Yes : the first line embodies the whole 
spirit of the Vinaya Pitaka, the second that of the Sutta, 
the third that of the Abhidhamma. They comprise only 
eight Pali words, yet, as the dew-drop reflects the stars, 
they sparkle with the spirit of all the Buddha Dharma. 

148. Q. Do these precepts show that Buddhism is 
an active or a passive religion ? 

A. To " cease from sin " may be called 
passive, but to " get virtue " and " to cleanse one s own 
heart ", or mind, are altogether active qualities. Buddha 
taught that we should not merely not be evil, but that 
we should be positively good. 



149. Q. Who or what are the "Three Guides" 1 
that a Buddhist is supposed to follow ? 

A. They are disclosed in the formula called 
the Tisarana : " I follow Buddha as my Guide : I 
follow the Law as my Guide : I follow the Order as my 
Guide ". These three are, in fact, the Buddha Dharma. 

150. Q. What does he mean when repeating this 
formula. ? 

A. He means that he regards the Budolha as 
his all-wise Teacher, Friend and Exemplar ; the law, or 
Doctrine, ascontaining the essential and immutable 
principles of Justice and Truth and the path that leads 

Saranam. Wijesinha Mudaliar writes me : " This word has been 
hitherto very inappropriately and erroneously rendered Refuge, by 
European Pali scholars, and thoughtlessly so accepted by native Pali 
scholars. Neither Pali etymology nor Buddhistic philosophy justifies 
the translation. Refuge, in the sense of a fleeing back or a place of 
shelter, is quite foreign to true Buddhism, which insists on every 
man working out his own emancipation. The root Sr in Samskrt 
(sara in Pali) means to move, to go ; so that Saranam would denote 
a moving, or he or that which goes before or with another a Guide 
or helper. I construe the passage thus : Gachchdmi, I go, Butfdham, 
to Bu(J<Jha Saranam, as my Guide. The translation of the Tisamna 
as the ** Three Refuges," has given rise to much misapprehension, 
and has been made by anti-Buddhists a fertile pretent for taunting 
Bu4<jlhists with the absurdity of taking refuge in non-entities and 
believing in unrealities. The term refuge is more applicable to 
Nirvana, of which Saranam is a synonym. The High Priest 
Sumangala also calls my attention to tf*e fact that the Pali root Sara 
has the secondary meaning of killing, or that which destroys. 
Buddham saranam gachchhdmi might thus be rendered "I go to 
Bu4<jlha, the Law, and the Order, as the destroyers of my fears 
the first by his preaching, the second by its axiomatic truth, the 
third by their various examples and precepts." 


to the realisation of perfect peace of mind on earth ; 
and the Order as the teachers and exemplars of that 
excellent Law taught by Bu4dha. 

151. Q. But are not some of the members of this 
" Order " men intellectually and morally inferior ? 

A. Yes ; but we are taught by the Buddha 
that only those who diligently attend to the Precepts, 
discipline their minds, and strive to attain or have 
attained one of the eight stages of holiness and 
perfection, constitute his "Order". It is expressly 
stated that the Order referred to in the " Tisarana " 
refers to the "Attha Ariya Puggala "the Noble 
Ones who have attained one of the eight stages of 
perfection. The mere wearing of yellow robes, or even 
ordination, does not of itself make a man pure or wise 
or entitle him to reverence. 

152. Q. Then it is not such unworthy bhikkhus as 
they, whom the true Buddhist would take as his guides ? 

A. Certainly not. 

153. Q. What are the five observances, or universal 
precepts, called the Pancha Sila, which are imposed on 
the laity in general ? 

A. They are included in the following formula, 
which Bu4dhists repeat publicly at the viharas (temples) : 

I observe the precept to refrain from destroying the 
life of beings. 

I observe the precept to refrain from stealing. 


I observe the precept to abstain from unlawful 
sexual intercourse. 1 

I observe the precept to refrain from falsehood. 

I observe the precept to abstain from using intoxicants. 

154. Q. What strikes the intelligent person on 
reading these Silas ? 

A. That one who observes them strictly must 
escape from every cause productive of human misery. 
If we study history we shall find that it has all sprung 
from one or another of these causes. 

155. Q. In which Silas is the far-seeing wisdom of 
the Buddha most plainly shown ? 

A. In the first, third and fifth ; for the taking 
of life, sensuality, and the use of intoxicants, cause at 
least ninety-five per cent of the sufferings among men. 

156. Q. What benefits does a man derive from the 
observance of these Precepts ? 

A. He is said to acquire more or less merit 
according to the manner and time of observing the 
precepts, and the number observed ; that is, if he 
observes only one precept, violating the other four, he 
acquires the merit of the observance of that precept 
only ; and the longer he keeps that precept the greater 

j This qualified form refers, of course, to laymen who only 
profess to keep five precepts : a Bhflekhu must observe strict 
celibacy. So, also, must the laity who binds himself to observe eight 
o f the whole ten Precepts for specified periods ; during these periods 
he must be celibate. The five Precepts were laid down by Buddha 
for all people. Though one may not be a Buddhist, yet the five and 
eight Precepts may profitably be observed by all. It is the taking 
of the " Three Refuges " that constitutes one a Buddhist. 


will be the merit. He who keeps all the precepts 
inviolate will cause himself to have a higher and happier 
existence hereafter. 

157. Q. What are the other observances which it is 
considered meritorious for the laity as such to undertake 
voluntarily to keep ? 

A. The Atthanga Sila, or the Eightfold 
Precept, which embraces the five above enumerated 
(omitting the work " unlawful " in the third), with 
three additional ; viz : 

I observe the precept to abstain from eating at an 
unseasonable time. 

I observe the precept to abstain from dancing, singing, 
music and unbecoming shows, and from the use of 
garlands, scents, perfumes, cosmetics, ointments, and 

I observe the precept to abstain from using high and 
broad beds. 

The seats and couches here referred to are those used 
by the worldly-minded for the sake of pleasure and 
sensual enjoyment. The celibate should avoid these. 

158. Q. How would a Buddhist describe true merit ? 
A. There is no great merit in any merely 

outward act ; all depends upon the inward motive that 
provokes the deed. 

159. Q. Give an example ? 

A. A rich man may expend lakhs of rupees 
in building dagobas or viharas, in erecting statues of 
Buddha, in festivals and processions, in feeding priests, 
in giving alms to the poor, or in planting trees, digging 


tanks, or constructing rest-houses by the roadside for 
travellers, and yet have comparatively little merit if it 
be done for display, or to hear himself praised by men, 
or for any other selfish motives. But he who does the 
least of these things with a kind motive, such as love 
for his fellow-men, gains great merit. A good deed 
done with a bad motive benefits others, but not the 
doer. One who approves of a good deed when done 
by another shares in the merit, if his sympathy is real, 
not pretended. The same rule applies to evil deeds. 

160. Q. But which is said to be the greatest of all 
meritorious actions ? 

A. The Dhammapada declares that the merit 
of disseminating the Dharma, the Law of Righteousness, 
is greater than that of any other good work. 

161. Q. What books contain all the most excellent 
wisdom of the Buddha s teachings ? 

A. The three collections of books called 
Tripitakas or " Three Baskets ". 

162. Q. What are the names of the three Pitakas, or 
groups of books ? 

A. The The Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka 
and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. 

163. Q. What do they respectively contain ? 

A. The first contains all that pertains to 
morality and the rules of discipline for the government 
of the Sangha , or Order ; the second contains 
instructive discourses on ethics applicable to all ; the 
third explains the psychological teachings of the Buddha 
including the twenty-four transcendental laws explanatory 
of the workings of Nature. 


164. Q. Do Buddhists believe these books to be 
inspired, or revealed by a Divine Being ? 

A. No ; but they revere them as containing 
all the parts of that most Excellent Law, by the knowing 
of which man may break through the trammels of 

165. Q. In the whole text of the three Pitakas 
how many words are there ? 

A. Dr. Rhys-Davids estimates them at 

165. Q. When were the Pitakas first reduced to 
writing ? 

A. In 88-76 B.C., under the Sinh .ilese King, 
Wattagamini, or three hundred and thirty years after 
the Parana virana of the Buddha. 

167. Q. Have we reason to believe that all the 
discourses of the Buddha are known to us ? 

A. Probably not, and it would be strange if 
they were. Within the forty-five years of his public 
life he must have preached many hundreds of discourses. 
Of these, in times of war and persecution, many must 
have been lost, many scattered to distant countries, and 
many mutilated, History says that enemies of the 
Buddha Dhamma burnt piles of our bocks as high 
as a coco-nut tree. 


168. Q. Do Buddhists consider the Buddha as one 
who by his own virtue can save us from the consequence 
of our individual sins ? 

A. Not at all. Man must emancipate himself. 
Until he does that he will continue being born over 
and over and over again the victim of ignorance, 
the slave of unquenched passions. 

169. Q. What, then, was the Buddha to us, and all 
other beings ? 

A. An all-seeing, all- wise Counsellor ; one 
who discovered the safe path and pointed it out ; one 
who showed the cause of, and the only cure for, human 
surTereing. In pointing to the road, in showing us how 
to escape dangers, he became our Guide. He is to 
us like one leading blind man across a narrow bridge 
over a swift and deep stream and so saving his life. 

170. Q. If we were to try to represent the wh^le 
spirit of the Budtfhtfs doctrine by one word, which word 
should we choose ? 

A. Justice. 

171. Q. Why! 

A. Because it teaches that every man gets, 
under the operations of unerring KARMA, exactly that 
reward or punishment which he has deserved, no more 
and no less. No good deed or bad deed, however 
trifling, and however secretly committed, escapes the 
evenly-balanced scales of Karma. 


172. Q. What is Karma ? x 

A. A causation operating on the moral, as 
well as on the physical and other planes. Buddhists 
say there is no miracle in human affairs : what a man 
sows that he must and will reap. 

173. Q. What other good words have been used to 
express the essence of Buddhism ? 

A. Self-culture and universal love. 

174. Q. What doctrine ennobles Buddhism, and 
gives it its exalted place among the world s religions ? 

A. That of Mitta or Maitreya compassionate 
kindness. The importance of this doctrine is moreover 
emphasised in the giving of the name " Maitri " (the 
Compassionate One), to the coming Buddha. 

175. Q. Were all these points of Doctrine that yoy 
have explained meditated upon by the Buddha near the 
Bo- tree ? 

A. Yes, these and many more that may be 
read in the Buddhist Scriptures. The entire system of 
Buddhism came to his mind during the Great 

175. How long did the Buddha remain near the 
Bo tree ? 

A. Forty-nine days. 

1 Karma is defined as the sum total of a man s actions. The 
law of Cause and Effect is called the Paticcia Samuppada Dhamma. 
In the Anguttara Nikaya the Bucjhjlha teaches that my action is my 
possession, my action is my inheritance, my action is the womb 
which bears me, my action is my relative, my action is my refuge. 


177. Q. What do we call the first discourse preached 
by the fiuddha that which he addressed to his five former 
companions ? 

A. The Dhammacakka-ppavattana suit a the 
Sutra of the Definition of the Rules of Doctrine. 1 

178. Q. What subjects were treated by him in this 
discourse ? 

A. The "Four Noble Truths," and the 
" Noble Eightfold Path ". He condemned the extreme 
physical mortification of the ascetics, on the one hand, 
and the enjoyment of sensual pleasures on the other ; 
pointing out and recommending the Noble Eightfold 
Path as the Middle Path. 

179. Q. Did the Buddha hold with idol-worship ? 

A. He did not ; he opposed it. The worship 
of gods, demons, trees, etc., was condemned by the 
Buddha. External worship is a fetter that one has to 
break if he is to advance higher. 

After the appearance of the first edition, I received from one of 
the ablest Pali scholars of Ceylon, the late L. Corneille Wijesinha 
Esq., Mudaliar of Matale, what seems a better rendering of, 
Dhammacakka-pparattana than the one previously given ; he makes 
it "The Establishment of the Reign of Law". Professor Rhys- 
Davids prefers, "The Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness. 
Mr. Wijesingha writes me : " You may use Kingdom of Right 
eousness, too, but it savours more of dogmatic theology than 
philosophic ethics. Dhammacakkappa v attama suttam is the 
discourse entitled The Establishment of the Reign of Law ." 
Having shown this to the High Priest, I am happy to be able 
to say that he assents to Mr. Wijesingha s rendering. 


180. Q. But do not Buddhists make revence before 
the statue of the Buddha, his relics, and the monuments 
enshrining him ? 

A. Yes, but not with the sentiment of the 

181. Q. What is the difference ? 

A. Our Pagan brother not only takes his 
images as visible representations of his unseen God or 
gods, but the refined idolater, in worshipping, 
considers that the idol contains in its substance a 
portion of the all-pervading divinity. 

182. Q. What does the Buddhist think ? 

A. The Buddhist reverences the Buddha s 
statue and the other things you have mentioned, only 
as mementoes of the greatest, wisest, most benevolent 
and compassionate man in this world-period (Kalpa). 
All races and people preserve, treasure up, and value 
the relics and momentoes of men and women who have 
been considered in any way great. The Buddha, to 
us, seems more to be revered and beloved than any 
one else, by every human being who knows sorrow. 

183. Q. Has the Buddha himself given us some 
thing definite upon this subject ? 

A. Certainly. In the Mahd Pan-Nirvana 
Sutta he says that emancipation is attainable only by 
leading the Holy life, according to the Noble Eight 
fold Path, not by eternal worship (dmisa puja), nor 
by adoration of himself, or of another, or of any 


184. Q. What was the Buddha s estimate of 
ceremonialism ? 

A. From the beginning, he condemned the 
observance of ceremonies and other external practices, 
which only tend to increase our spiritual blindness 
and our clinging to mere lifeless forms. 

185. Q. What as to controversies ? 

A. In numerous discourses he denounced 
this habit as most pernicious. He prescribed penances 
for Bhikkhus who waste time and weaken their higher 
intuitions in wrangling over theories and metaphysical 

185. A. Are charms, incantations, the observance 
of lucky hours and devil-dancing a part of Buddhism ? 

A. They are positively repugnant to its 
fundamental principles. They are the surviving relics 
of fetishism and pantheism and other foreign 
religions. In the Brahmajdla Sutta the Buddha has 
categorically described these and other superstitions 
as Pagan, mean and spurious. 1 

187. Q. What striking contrasts are there between 
Buddhism and what may be properly called " religions " ? 

A. Among others, these : It teaches the 
highest goodness without a creating God ; a continuity 
of line without adhering to the superstitious and selfish 

1 The mixing of these arts and practices with Buddhism is a sign 
of deterioration. Their facts and phenomena are real and capable 
of scientific explanation. They are embraced ir the term " magic," 
but when resorted to, for selfish purposes, attract bad influences 
about one, and impede spi ritual advancement . When employed for 
harmless and beneficent purposes, such as healing the sick, saving 
life, etc., the Buddha permitted their use. 


doctrine of an eternal, metaphysical soul-substance 
that goes out of the body ; a hapiness without an 
objective heaven ; a method of salvation without a 
vicarious Saviour ; redemtpion by oneself as the 
Redeemer, and without rites, prayers, penances, 
priest or intercessory saints ; and a summum bonum, 
i.e., Nirvana, attainable in this life and in this world 
by leading a pure, unselfish life of wisdom and of 
compassion to all beings. 

188. Q. Specify the two main divisions of 
"meditation" i.e., of the process by which one 
extinguishes passion and attains knowledge ? 

A. Samatha and Vidarsana : (1) the attenu 
ation of passion by leading the holy life and by 
continued effort to subdue the senses ; (2) the attain 
ment of supernormal wisdom by reflection : each of 
which embraces twenty aspects, but I need not here 
specify them. 

189. Q. What are the four paths or stages of 
advancement that one may attain to ? 

A. (1) Sotdpatti the beginning or entering 
into which follows after one s clear perception of the 
" Four Noble Truths " ; (2) SakardagamithQ path of 
one who has so subjugated lust, hatred and delusion 
that he need only return once to this world ; (3) Andgami 
the path of those who have so far conquered self 
that they need not return to this world ; (4) Arhat 
the path of the holy and worthy Arhat, who is not 
only free from the necessity of reincarnation, but has 
capacitated himself to enjoy perfect wisdom, boundless 
pity for the ignorant and suffering, and measureless 
love for all beings. 


190. Q. Does popular Buddhism contain nothing 
but what is true, and in accord with science ? 

A. Like every other religion that has existed 
many centuries, it certainly now contains untruth 
mingled with truth ; even gold is found mixed with 
dross. The poetical imagination, the zeal, or the lin 
gering superstition of Buddhist devotees have, in var 
ious ages, and in various lands, caused the noble prin 
ciples of the Buddha s moral doctrines to be coupled 
more or less with what might be removed to advantage. 

191. Q. When such perversions are discovered, 
what should be the true Buddhist s earnest desire ? 

A. The true Buddhist should be ever ready 
and anxious to see the false purged away from the 
true, and to assist, if he can. Three great Councils 
of the Sangha were held for the express purpose of 
purging the body of Teachings from all corrupt inter 

192. Q. When ? 

A. The first, at Sattapanni cave, just after 
the death of the Buddha ; the second at Valukarama, 
in Vaisali ; the third at Asokarama Vihara, at Patali- 
putra, 235 years after Buddha s decease. 

193. Q. In what discourse does the Buddha himself 
warn us to expect this perversion of the true Doctrine ? 

A. In the Sanyutta Nikdya. 

194. Q. Are there any dogmas in Buddhism which 
we are required to accept on faith ? 

A. No: we are earnestly enjoined to accept 
nothing whatever on faith ; whether it be written in 
books, handed down from our ancestors, or taught by 
the sages. 


195. Q. Did he himself really teach that noble 
rule ? 

A. Yes. The Buddha has said that we must 
not believe in a thing said merely because it is said ; 
nor in traditions because they have been handed down 
from antiquity ; nor rumours, as such ; nor writings by 
sages, merely because sages wrote them ; nor fancies 
that we may suspect to have been inspired in us by a 
Deva (that is, in presumed spiritual inspiration) ; nor 
from inferences drawn from some haphazard assumption 
we may have made ; nor because of what seems 
analogical necessity ; nor on the mere authority of our 
own teachers or masters. 

196. Q. When, then, must we believe ? 

A. We are to believe when the writing doctrine 
or saying is corroborated by our own reason and 
consciousness. " For this, " says he in concluding 
" I taught you not to believe merely because you have 
heard, but when you believed of your own consciousness, 
then to act accordingly and abundantly." (See the 
Kdlama Sutta of the Anguttara Nikaya, and the Mahd 
Pari Nirvana Sutta.) 

\ 97. Q. What does the Buddha call himself ? 

A. He says that he and the other Buddhas are 
only " preachers " of truth who point out the way : we 
ourselves must make the effort. 

198. Q. Where is this said ? 

A. In the phammapada., Chapter xx. 


199. Q. Does Buddhism countenance hypocrisy ? 
A. The Dhammapada says : "Like a beautiful 

flower full of colour without scent the fine words of 
him who does not act accordingly are fruitless." 

200. Q. Does Buddhism teach us to return evil for 
evil ? 

A. In the Dhammapada the Buddha said : 
"If a man foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him 
the protection of my ungrudging love ; the more evil 
comes from him, the more good shall go from me." 
This is the path followed by the Arhat. 1 To return evil 
for evil is positively forbidden in Buddhism. 

1 A Bu44hist ascetic who, by a prescribed course of practice, has 
attained to a superior state of spiritual and intellectual develop 
ment. Arhats may be divided into the two general groups of the 
Samathayanika and Sukka Vipassaka. The former have destroyed 
their passions, and fully developed their intellectual capacity or 
mystical insight ; the latter have equally conquered passion, but not 
acquired the superior mental powers. The former can work phe 
nomena, the latter cannot. The Arhat of the former class, when 
fully developed, is no longer a prey to the delusions of the senses, 
nor the slave of passion or mortal frailty. He penetrates to the root 
of whatsoever subject his mind is applied to without following the slow 
processes of reasoning. His self-conquest is complete ; and in 
place of the emotion and desire which vex and enthral the ordinary 
man, he is lifted up into a condition which is best expressed in the 
term " Nirvanic". There is in Ceylon a popular misconception 
that the attainment of Arhatship is now impossible ; that the 
Buddha had himself prophesied that the power would die out in 
one millenium after his death. This rumour and the similar one 
that is everywhere heard in India, viz., that this being the dark cycle 
of the Kali Yuga, the practice of Yoga Vidya, or sublime spiritual 
science, is impossible I ascribe to the ingenuity of those who 
should be as pure and (to use a non-Butftfhistic but very convenient 
term) psychically wise as were their predecessors, but are not, and 


201. Q. Does it encourage cruelty ? 

A. No, indeed. In the Five Precepts and in 
many of his discourses, the Buddha teaches us to be 
merciful to all beings, to try and make them happy, to 
love them all, to abstain from taking life, or consenting 
to it, or encouraging its being done. 

202. Q. In which discourse is this stated ? 

A. The jDhammika Sutta says : "Let him 
(the householder) not destroy, or cause to be destroyed, 
any life at all, or sanction the act of those who do so. Let 
him refrain from even hurting any creature." 1 

203. Q. Does it approve of drunkenness ? 

A. In his Dhammika Sutta we are warned 
against drinking liquors, causing others to drink, or 
sanctioning the acts of those who drink.i 

204. Q. To what are we told that drunkeness leads ? 

A. To demerit, crime, insanity, and ignorance 
which is the chief cause of rebirth. 

who therefore seek an excuse ! The Buddha taught quite the 
contrary idea. In the niga dikaya he said : "Hear, Subbhadra ! 
The world will never be without Arhats if the ascetics (Bhikkhus) in 
my congregations well and truly keep my precepts" (Imeccha Sub- 
haddabhikku samma vihareyyum asunno loko Arahantehiassa). 

1 Kolb, in his History of Culture, says : "It is Bu&lhism we have 
to thank for the sparing of prisoners of war, who heretofore had 
been slain ; also for the discontinuance of the carrying away into 
captivity of the inhabitants of conquered lands. 

2 The fifth Sila has reference to the mere taking of intoxicants 
and stupefying drugs, which leads ultimately to drunkenness. 


205. Q. What does Buddhism teach about marriage ? 

A. Absolute chastity being a condition of full 
spiritual development, is most highly commended ; but 
a marriage to one wife and fidelity to her is recognised 
as a kind of chastity. Polygamy was censured by the 
Buddha as involving ignorance and promoting lust. 

206. Q.^ In what discourse ? 

A. The Anguttara Nikdya, Chapter iv, 55. 

207. Q. What does it teach as to the duty of parents 
to children ? 

A. They should restrain them from vice ; 
train them in virtue ; have them taught arts and sciences ; 
provide them with suitable wives and husbands, and 
give them their inheritance. 

208. Q. What is the duty of children ? 

A. To support their parents when old or 
needy ; perform family duties incumbent on them ; guard 
their property ; make themselves worthy to be their 
heirs, and when they are gone, honour their memory. 

209. Q. What of pupils to the teacher ? 

A. To show him respect ; minister to him ; 
obey him ; supply his wants ; attend to his instruction. 

210. Q. What of husband to wife ? 

A. To cherish her ; treat her with respect and 
kindness ; be faithful to her ; cause her to be honoured 
by others ; provide her with suitable ornaments and 


211. Q. What of the wife to her husband ? 

A. To show affection to him ; order her 
household aright ; be hospitable to guests ; be chaste ; 
be thrifty ; show skill and diligence in all things. 

212. Q. Where are these precepts taught ? 
A. In the Sigdlovdda Suit a. 

213. Q. Do riches help a man to future happiness ? 
A. The phammapada says : "One is the road 

that leads to wealth, another the road that leads to 

214. Q. Does that mean that no rich man can attain 
Nirvana ? 

A. That depends on which he loves most. If 
he uses his wealth for the benefit of mankind for the 
suffering, the oppressed, the ignorant then his wealth 
aids him to acquire merit. 

215. Q. But if the contrary ? 

A. But if he loves and greedily hoades money 
for the sake of its possession, then it weakens his moral 
sense, prompts him to crime, brings curses upon him in 
this life, and their effects are felt in the next birth. 

215. Q. What says the " Dhammapaga " about 
ignorance ? 

A. That it is a taint worse than all taints that 
a man can put upon himself. 

217. Q. What does it say about uncharitableness 
towards others ? 

A. That the fault of others is easily perceived 
but that of oneself difficult to perceive ; a man winnows 
his neighbour s faults like chaff, but his own fault he 
hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the gambler. 


218. Q. What advice does the Buddha give us as to 
man s duty to the poor ? 

A. He says that a man s net income should be 
divided into four parts, of which one should be devoted 
to philanthropic objects. 

219. Q. What five occupations are said to be low and 
base ? 

A. Selling liquor, selling animals for slaughter, 
selling poison, selling murderous weapons, and dealing 
in slaves. 

220. Q. Who are said to be incapable of progress in 
spirituality ? 

A. The killers of father, mother, and holy 
Arhats; Bhikkhus who sow discord in the Sangha ; 
those who attempt to injure the person of a Buddha ; 
those who hold extremely nihilistic views as to the 
future existence ; and those who are extremely sensual. 

121. Q. Does Buddhism specify places or conditions 
of torment into which a bad marts Karma draws him on 
leaving this life ? 

A. Yes. They are : Sanjiva ; Kalasutra ; 

Sanghata ; Raurava ; Maha-Raurava Tapa ; Pratapa ; 

222. Q. Js the torment eternal ? 

A. Certainly not. Its duration depends on a 
man s Karmc^. 

223. Q. Does Buddhism declare that non-believers in 
Buddha will of necessity be damned for their unbelief ? 

A. No ; by good deeds they may enjoy a 
limited term of happiness before being drawn into rebirth 
by their unexhausted tanhd. To escape rebirth, one must 
tread the Noble Eight-fold Path. 


224. Q. What is the spiritual status of woman 
among Buddhist ? 

A. According to our religion they are on a 
footing of perfect equality with men. " Woman," says 
the Buddha, in the Chullavedalla Sutta, " may attain the 
highest path of holiness that is open to man Arhatship." 

225. Q. What does a modern critic say about the 
effect of Buddhism on woman ? 

A. That " it has done more for the happiness 
and enfranchisement of woman than any other creed " 
(Sir Lepel Griffin). 

226. Q. What did the Buddha teach about caste ? 

A. That one does not become of any caste, 
whether Pariah, the lowest, or Brahmana the highest, by 
birth, but by deeds. " By deeds," said He, " one becomes 
an outcast, by deeds one becomes a Brahmana " (See 
Vasala Sutta). 

227. Q. Tell me a story to illustrate this ? 

A. Ananda, passing by a well, was thirsty and 
asked Prakrtti, a girl of the Matanga, or Pariah, caste, 
to give him water. She said she was of such low caste 
that he would become contaminated by taking water 
from her hand. But Ananda replied : " I ask not for 
caste but for water " ; and the Matanga girl s heart was 
glad and she gave him to drink. The Buddha blessed 
her for it. 

228. Q. What did the Buddha say in " Vasala Sutta " 
about a man of the Pariah Sopdka caste ? 

A. That by his merits he reached the highest 
fame ; that many Khattiyas (Kshattriyas) and Brah- 
manas went to serve him ; and that after death he was 


born in the Brahma-world : while there are many 
Brahmanas who for their evil deeds are born in hell. 

229. Q. Does Buddhism teach the Immortality of 
the soul ? 

A. It considers " soul " to be a word used by 
the ignorant to express a false idea. If everything is 
subject to change, then man is included, and every 
material part of him must change. That which is subject 
to change is not permanent : so there can be no immortal 
survival of a changeful thing. 1 

230. Q. What is so objectionable in this word 
" soul " ? 

A. The idea associated with it that man can 
be an entity separated from all other entities, and from 
the existence of the whole of the Universe. This idea 
of separateness is unreasonable, not provable by logic, 
nor supported by science. 

231. Q. Then there is no separate "/", nor can we 
say " my " this or that ? 

A. Exactly so. 

232. Q. If the idea of a separate human "soul" is 
to be rejected, what is it in man which gives him the 
impression of having a permanent personality ? 

A. Tanha, or the unsatisfied desire for exist 
ence. The being having done that for which he must 
be rewarded or punished in future, and having Tanha, 
will have a rebirth through the influence of Karma. 

1 The "soul" here criticised is the equivalent of the Greek psyche. 
The word "material" covers other states of matter than that of the 
physical body. 


233. Q. What is it that is born ? 

A. A new aggregation of Skandhas, or per 
sonality 1 caused by the last generative thought of the 
dying person. 

n reflection, I have substituted "personality" for "indi 
viduality" as written in the first edition. The successive appearance 
upon one or many earths, or "descents into generation", of the 
tanhaically-coherent parts (Skhandhas) of a certain being are a 
succession of personalities. In each birth the personality differs 
from that of the previous, or next succeeding birth. Karma the 
deus ex machina, masks (or shall we say reflects ?) itself, now in the 
personality of a sage, again as an artisan, and so on throughout the 
string of births. But though personalities ever shift, the one line of 
life along which they are strung like beads, runs unbroken, it is ever 
that particular Urn, never any other. It is therefore individual 
an individual vital undulation which is careering through the 
objective side of Nature, under the impulse of Karma and the 
creative direction of Tanha and persists through many cyclic 
changes. Professor Rhys-Davids calls that which p.;sses from per 
sonality to personality along the individual chain, "character" or 
"doing". Since "character" is not a mere metaphysical abstrac 
tion, but the sum of one s mental qualities and moral propensities, 
would it not help to dispel what Professor Rhys-Davids calls "the 
desperate expedient of a mystery " (Buddhism, p. 101), if we 
regarded the life-undulation as individuality and each of its series 
of natal manifestations as a separate personality ? We must have 
two words to distinguish between the concepts, and find now so 
clear and expressive as the two I have chosen. The perfected 
individual, Buo dhistically speaking, is a Buddha, T should say ; for 
a Bu<jl<lha is but the rare flower of humanity, without the least 
supernatural admixture. And, as countless generations "four 
asankheyyas and a hundred thousand cycles" (Fausboll and Rhys- 
David s Buddhist Birth Stories, No. 13) are required to develop a 
man into a Buddha, and the iron will to become one runs throughout 
all the successive births, what shall we call that which thus wills and 
perseveres ? Character, or individuality ? An individuality, but 
partly manifested in any one birth, built up of fragments from all 
the births. 

The denial of "Soul" by Buddha (see Samyuffa Nikaya, the 
Sutfa Pifaka) points to the prevalent delusive belief in an indepen 
dent personality ; an entity, which after one birth would go to a 


234. Q. How many Skandhas are there ? 
A. Five . 

235. Q. Name the five Skandhas ? 

A. Rupa, Vedana, Sanna, Samkhdra, and 

236. Q. Briefly explain what they are ? 

A. Rupa, material qualities ; Vedana, sensa 
tion ; Sannd, abstract ideas ; Samkhara, tendencies of 
mind ; Vinnana, mental powers, or consciousness. Of 
these we are formed ; by them we are conscious of 
existence ; and through them communicate with the 
world about us. 

fixed place or state where, as a perfect entity, it could eternally 
enjoy or suffer. And what he shows is that the "I am I" conscious 
ness, is as regards permanency, logically impossible, since its ele 
mentary constituents constantly change and the "I" of one birth 
differs from the "I" of every other births. But every thing that I 
have found in Buddhism accords with the theory of a gradual 
evolution of the perfected man v/z., a Buddha through number 
less natal experiences. And in the consciousness of that individual 
man viz., a Buddha through numberless natal experiences. 
And in the consciousness of that individual who, at the end of a 
given chain of births, attains Bu^dhahood, or who succeeds in 
attaining the fourth stage of Dhyana, or mystic self-development, 
in any of his births anterior to the final one, the scene of all these 
serial births are perceptible. In the Jatakattthavannana so well 
translated by Professor Rhys-Davids an expression continually 
recurs which, I think, rather supports such an idea v/z. : "Then the 
Blessed One made manifest an occurrence hidden by change of birth", 
or "that which had been hidden by," etc. Early Buddhism then 
clearly held to a permanency of records in the Akasha, and the 
potential capacity of man to read the same when he has evolved to 
the stage of true individual enliShtenment. At death, and 
convulsions and trance, thejavana china is transferred to the object 
last created by the desires. The will to live brings all thoughts 
into objectivity. 


237. Q. To what cause must we attribute the dif 
ferences in the combination of the five Skhandhas which 
make every individual differ from every other individual ? 

A. To the ripened Karma of the individual in 
his preceding births. 

238. Q. What is the force, or energy that is at work 
under the guidance of Karma, to produce the new being ? 

A. Tanha the will to live 1 . 

239. . Upon what is the doctrine of rebirths 
founded ? 

A. Upon the perception that perfect justice, 
equilibrium and adjustment are inherent in the universal 
system of Nature. Buddhists do not believe that one 
life even though it were extended to one hundred or 
five hundred years is long enough for the reward or 
punishment of a man s deeds. The great circle of re 
births will be more or less quickly run through according 
to the preponderating purity or impurity of the several 
lives of the individual. 

1 The student may profitably consult Schopenhauei in this 
connection. Arthur Schopenhauer, a modern German philoso 
pher of the most eminent ability, taught that "the Principle or 
Radical, of Nature, and of all her objects, the human body included 
is, intrinsically what we ourselves are the most conscious of in our 
own body, viz., Will. Intellect is a secondary capacity of the 
primary will, a function of the brain in which this will reflects itself 

as Nature and object and body, as in a mirror Intellect is 

secondary, but may lead, in saints, to a complete renunciation of 
will, as far as it urges "life" and is then extinguished in Nirvana 
(L. A. Sanders in The Theosophist for May 1882, p. 213). 


240. Q. Is this new aggregation of Skandhas this 
new personality the same being as that in the previous 
birth, Tanhd shoes has brought it into existence ? 

A. In one sense it is a new being ; in another 
it is not. In Pali it is "nacha so nacha annoT which 
means not the same nor yet another. During this life 
the Skhandhas are constantly changing ; and while the 
man A. B., of forty, is identical, as regards personality, 
with the youth A. B., of eighteen, yet, by the continual 
waste and reparation of his body, and change of mind 
and character, he is a different being. Nevertheless, the 
man in his old age justly reaps the reward of suffering 
consequent upon his thoughts and actions at every pre 
vious stage of his life. So the new being of a rebirth 
being the same individuality as before, but with a change, 
form, or new aggregation of Skandhas, justly reaps the 
consequences of his actions and thoughts in the previous 

241. Q. But the aged man remembers the incidents 
of his youth, despite his being physically and mentally 
changed. Why y then, is not the recollection of past lives 
brought over by us from our last birth, into the present 
birth ? 

A. Because memory is included within the 
Skandhas ; and the Skandhas having changed with the 
new reincarnation, a new memory, the record of the 
particular existence, develops. Yet the record or re 
flection of all the past earth-lives must survive ; for 
when Prince Siddhartha became Buddha, the full se 
quence of his previous births was seen by him. If their 

! Physiologically speaking, man s body is completely changed 
every seven years. 


several incidents had left no trace behind, this could not 
have been so, as there would have been nothing for him 
to see. And any one who attains to the fourth state of 
Dhyana (psychical insight) can thus retrospectively trace 
the line of his lives. 

242. Q. What is the ultimate point towards which 
tend all these series of changes inform ? 

A. Nirvana. 

243 . Q. Does Buddhism teach that we should do good 
with the view of reaching Nirvana ? 

A. No ; that would be as absolute selfishness 
as though the reward hoped for had been money, a 
throne, or any other sensual enjoyment. Nirvana 
cannot be so reached, and the unwise speculator is fore 
doomed to disappointment. 

244. Q. Please make it a little clearer ? 

A. Nirvana is the synonym of unselfishnes, 
the entire surrender of selfhood to truth. The ignorant 
man aspires to nirvanic happiness without the least idea 
of its nature. Absence of selfishness is Nirvana. Doing 
good with the view to getting results, or leading the holy 
life with the objects of gaining heavenly happiness, is not 
the Noble Life that the Buddha enjoined. Without hope 
of reward the Noble life should be lived, and that is the 
highest life. The nirvanic state can be attained while 
one is living on this earth. 

245. Q. Name the ten great obstacles to advance 
ment, called Sanyojanas, the Fetters ? 

A. Delusion of self (Sakkaya-ditthi) ; Doubt 
(Vicikiccha) ; Dependence on superstitious rites (Silab- 
bata-paramasa) ; Sensuality, bodily passions (Kama ;) 


Hatred, ill-feeling (Patighd) ; Love of life on earth (Ru- 
pardga) ; Desire for life in a heaven (Aruparaga) ; Pride 
(Mana) ; Self-righteousness (Uddhacca) ; Ignorance 

246. Q. To become an Arhaf, how many of these 
fetters must be broken ? 

A. All. 

247. Q. What are the five Niwaranas or 
hindrances ? 

A. Greed, Malice, Sloth, Pride, and Doubt. 

248. Q. Why do we see this minute division of 
feelings, impulses, workings of the mind, obstacles and 
aids to advancement so much used in the Buddha \s 
teachings ? It is very confusing to a beginner. 

A. It is to help us to obtain knowledge of 
ourselves, by training our minds to think out every 
subject in detail. By following out this system of 
self-examination, we come finally to acquire knowledge 
and see truth as it is. This is the course taken by every 
wise teacher to help his pupil s mind to develop. 

249. Q. How many of the Buddlufs disciples were 
specially renowned for their superior qualities ? 

A. There are eighty so distinguished. They 
are called the Aslti Mafia Savakas. 

250. Q. What did the Buddha s wisdom embrace ? 

A. He knew the nature of the Knowable and 
the Unknowable, the Possible and the Impossible, the 
cause of Merit and Demerit ; he could read the 
thoughts of all beings ; he knew the laws of Nature 


the illusions of the senses and the means to suppress 
desires ; he could distinguish the birth and rebirth of 
individuals, and other things. 

251. Q. What do we call the basic principle on which 
the whole of the Buddha s teaching is constructed ? 

A. It is called Paticca Samuppada. 1 

252. Q. Is it easily grasped ? 

A. It is most difficult ; in fact, the full meaning 
and extent of it is beyond the capacity of such as are 
not perfectly developed. 

253. Q. What said the great commentator Buddha 
Ghoha about it ? 

A. That even he was as helpless in this vast 
ocean of thought as one who is drifting on the ocean 
of waters. 

254. Q. Then why should the Buddha say, in the 
Parinibbana Sutta, that he " has no such thing as the 
closed first of a teacher, who keeps something back" 
If his whole teaching was open to every one s comprehension 
why should so great and learned a man as Buddha Ghosha 
declare it so hard to understand ? 

1 This fundamental or basic principle may be designated in Pail 
Niddna chain of causation or, literally, " Origination of dep Ca 
dence." Twelve Nidanas are specified, viz., : Avijja ignorance of 
the truth of natural religion ; Samkhdra causal action, karma ; 
Vifmdna consciousness of personality, the " I am I " ; Ndma riipa 
name and form : Salayatana six senses ; Phassa contact ; 
Vedand feeling ; Tanhd desire for enjoyment ; Updddna 
clinging ; Bhava individualising existence; Jati birth, caste? 
Jard, marana, sokhaparideva, dukka; domanassa, updydsa decay, 
death, grief, lamentation, despair. . . .. .. 


A. The Buddha evidently meant that he 
taught everything freely ; but equally certain is it that 
the real basis of the Dharma can only be understood by 
him who has perfected his powers of comprehension. 
It is, therefore, incomprehensible to common, un 
enlightened persons. 

255. Q. How does the teaching of the Buddha 
support this view ? 

A. The Buddha looked into the heart of each 
person, and preached to suit the individual temperament 
and spiritual development of the hearer. 


256. Q. How do Buddhist Bhikkhus differ from 
the priests of other religious ? 

A. In other religions the priests claim to be 
intercessors between men and God, to help to obtain 
pardon of sins ; the Buddhist Bhikkhus do not 
acknowledge or expect anything from a divine power. 

257. Q. But why then was it worth while to create 
this Order, or Brotherhood, or Society, apart from the 
whole body of the people, if they were not to do what 
other religious orders do ? 

A. The object in view was to cause the most 
virtuous, intelligent, unselfish and spiritually-minded 
persons to withdraw from the social surroundinge 
where their sensual and other selfish desires wers 
naturally strengthened, devote their lives to the 
acquisition of the highest wisdom, and fit themselves to 
teach and guide others out of the pleasant path leading 
towards misery, into the harder path that leads to true 
happiness and final liberation. 

258. Q. Besides the Eight, what two additional 
observances are obligatory upon the Bhikkhus ? 

A. I observe the precept to abstain from 
dancing, singing and unbecoming shows. 

I observe the precept to abstain from receiving gold 
or silver. 

The whole Dasa, or Bhikkhu Sila or Ten Precepts, are 
binding on all Bhikkhus and Samaneras, or novices, 
but optional with lay devotees. 


The Atthanga Sila are for those who aspire to higher 
stages beyond the heavenly regions, 1 aspirants after 

259. Q. Are there separate Rules and Precepts for 
the guidance and discipline of the Order ? 

A. Yes : there are 250, but all come under 
the following four heads : 

Principal Disciplinary Rules (Patimokkha Samvara 

Observances for the repression of the senses (Indriya 
Samvara Silo). 

Regulations for justly procuring and using food, diet, 
robes, etc., (Paccaya Sannissita Slid). 

Directions for leading an unblemished life (Ajivapari 
Suddha Slid). 

260. Q. Enumerate some crimes and offences that 
Bhikkhus are particularly prohibited from committing ? 

A. Real Bhikkhus abstain from : 

Destroying the life of beings ; 
Stealing ; 

False exhibition of " occult " powers to deceive 
anybody ; 

Sexual intercourse ; 
Falsehood ; 

The Upasaka and Upasika observes these on the Buddhist 
Uposatha (Sabbath) days (in Skr. Upavasa). They are the 8th, 
14th and 15th days of each half lunar month. 


The use of intoxicating liquors, and eating at 
unseasonable times ; 

Dancing, singing, and unbecoming shows ; 
Using garlands, scents, perfumes, etc. ; 

Using high and broad beds, couches or seats ; 
receiving presents of gold, silver, raw grain and meat, 
women, and maidens, slaves, cattle, elephants, etc. ; 

Defaming ; 

Using harsh and reproachful language ; 

Idle talk ; 

Reading and hearing fabulous stories and tales ; 

Carrying messages to and from laymen ; 

Buying and selling ; 

Cheating, bribing, deception, and fraud ; 

Imprisoning, plundering, and threatening others ; 

The practice of certain specified magical arts and 
sciences, such as fortune-telling, astrological predictions, 
palmistry, and other sciences, that go under the name 
of magic. Any of these would retard the progress of 
one who aimed at the attainment of Nirvana. 

261. Q. What are the duties ofBhikkus to the laity ? 

A. Generally, to set them an example of the 
highest morality ; to teach ind instruct them ; to 
preach and expound the Law ; to recite the Paritta 
(comforting texts) to the sick, and publicly in times 
of public calamity, when requested to do so ; and 
unceasingly to exhort the people to virtuous actions. 
They should dissuade them from vice ; be compassion- 
.ate and tender-hearted, and seek to promote the 
welfare of all beings,- - - - -- 


262. Q. What are the rules for admission into the 

A. The candidate is not often taken before 
his tenth year ; he must have the consent of his parents ; 
be free from leprosy, boils, consumption and fits ; be 
a free man ; have no debts ; and must not be a criminal 
or deformed or in the royal service. 

263. Q. As a novice what is he called ? 
A. Samanera, a pupil. 1 

264. Q. At what age can a Samanera be ordained 
as Sramana monk ? 

A. Not before his twentieth year. 

265. Q. When ready for ordination what happens ? 

A. At a meeting of Bhikkhus he is presented 
by a Bhikkhu as his proposer, who reports that he is 
qualified, and the candidate says : " I ask the Sangha, 
Reverend Sirs, for the Upasampada (ordination) 
ceremony, etc." 

His introducer then recommends that he be admitted. 
He is then accepted. 

266. Q. What then ? 

A. He puts on the robes and repeats the Three 
Refuges (Tisarana) and Ten Precepts (Dasa Sila). 

267. Q. What are the two essentials to be observed ? 

A. Poverty and Chastity. A Bhikkhu before 
ordination must possess eight things, v/z., his robes, a 

1 The relationship his to Guru, or teacher, is almost like that of 
godson to godfather among Christians, only more .roal, for the 
teacher becomes father, mother, family and air to him. 


girdle for his loins, a begging-bowl, water-strainer, 
razor, needle, fan, sandals. Within limitations strictly 
specified in the Vindya, he may hold certain other 

268. Q. What about the public confession of faults ? 

A. Once every fortnight, a Patimokka (Dis- 
burdenment) ceremony is performed, when every 
Bhikkhu confesses to the assembly such faults as he has 
committed and takes such penances as may be prescribed. 

269. Q. What daily routine must he follow ? 

A. He rises before daylight, washes, sweeps 
the vihara, sweeps around the Bo-tree that grows near 
every vihara, brings the drinking-water for the day 
and filters it ; retires for meditation, offers flowers 
before the dagoba, or relic-mound, or before the Bo-tree ; 
then takes his begging-bowl and goes from house to 
house collecting food which he must not ask for, but 
receive in his bowl as given voluntarily by the 
householders. He returns, bathes his feet and eats, 
after which he resumes meditation. 

270. Q. Must we believe that there is no merit in 
t he offering of flowers (malapiija) as an act of worship ? 

A. That act itself is without merit as a mere 
formality ; but if one offers a flower as the sweetest, 
purest expression of heartfelt reverence for a holy being 
then, indeed, is the offering an act of ennobling worship . 

271. Q. What next does the Bhikkhu do ? 

A. He pursues his studies. At sunset he 
r+gain sweeps the sacred places, lights a lamp, listens to 
the instructions of his superior, and confesses to him 
any fault he may have committed. 


272. Q. Upon what are his four earnest meditations 
(Sati-patthana) made ? 

A. 1. On the body, Kayanapassana. 

2. On the feeling, Vedananupassdna. 

3 . On the mind , Chittdnupassand . 

4. On the doctrine, Dhammanupassand 

273. Q. What is the aim of the four Great Efforts 
(Sammappadhdna) ? 

A. To suppress one s animal desires and 
grow in goodness. 

272. Q. For the perception by the Bhikkhu of the 
highest truth, is reason said to be the best, or intuition ? 

A. Intuition a mental state in which any 
desired truth is inst antaneously grasped. 

275. Q. And when can that development be reached ? 

A. When one, by the practice ofJtlcina, comes 
to its fouth stage of unfolding. 

275. Q. Are we to believe that in the final stage of 
Jncina, and in the condition called Samddhi, the mind 
is a blank and thought is arrested ? 

A. Quite the CDiiirary. It is then that one s 
consciousness is most intensely active, and one s power, 
to gain knowledge correspondingly vast. 

277. Q. Try to give me a simile ? 

A. In the ordinary waking state one s view 
of knowledge is as limited as the sight of a man who 
walks on a road between high hills ; in the higher con 
sciousness ofJndna and Sanuldhi it is like the sight of the 
eagle poised in the upper sky and overlooking a 
whole country. 


278. Q. What do our books say about the Buddha s 
use of this faculty ? 

A. They tell us that it was his custom, every 
morning, to glance over the world and, by his divine 
(clairvoyant)sight, see where there were persons ready 
to rteceive the truth. He would then contrive, if possible, 
that it should reach them. When persons visited him he 
would look into their minds, read their secret motives, 
and then preach to them according to their needs. 


279. Q. As regards the number of its followers, how 
does Buddhism at this date compare with the other chief 
religions ? 

A. The followers of the Buddha Dharma 
outnumber those of every other religion. 

280. Q. What is the estimated number ? 

A. About five hundred millions (5,000 lakhs 
or 500 crores) : this is five-thirteenths, or not quite half, 
of the estimated population of the globe. 

281. Q. Have many great battles been fought and 
many countries conquered ; has much human blood been 
split to spread the Buddha pharma ? 

A. History does not record one of those 
cruelties and crimes as having been committeed to 
propagate our religion. So far as we know, it has not 
caused the spilling of a drop of blood. (See foot-note 
ante Professor Kolb s testimony.) 

282. Q. What, them, is the secret of its wonderful 
spread ? 

A. It can be nothing else than its intrinsic 
excellence : its self-evident basis of truth, its sublime 
moral teaching, and its sufHdiency for all human needs. 

283. Q. How has it been propagated ? 

A. The Buddha, during the forty-five years of 
his life as a Teacher, travelled widely in India and preach 
the Dharma. He sent his wisest and best disciples to 
do the same throughout India. 


284. Q. When did He send for his pioneer mission 
aries ? 

A. On the full-moon day of the month Wap 

285. Q. What did he tell them ? 

A. He called them together and said : "Go 
forth, Bhikkhus, go and preach the law to the world. 

Work for the good of others as well as for your own 

Bear ye the glad tidings to every man. Let no two of 
you take the same way." 

286. Q. How long before the Christian era did this 
happen ? 

A. About six centuries. 

287. Q. What help did Kings give ? 

A. Besides the lov/er classes, great Kings, 
Rajas and Maharajas were converted and gave their 
influence to spread the religion. 

288. Q. What about pilgrims ? 

A. Learned pilgrims came in different centuries 
to India and carried back with them books and teachings 
to their native lands. SD, gradually, whole nations 
forsook their own faiths and became Buddhists. 

289. Q. To whom, more than to any other person, 
is the world indebted for the permanent establishment 
of Buddha s religion ? 

A. To the Emperor Ashoka, surnamed the 
Great, sometimes Piyadasi, sometimes Dharniashoka. 
He was the son of Bindusara, King of Magadha, and 
grandson of Chan^ragupta, who drove the Greeks 
out of India. 


290. Q. When did he reign ? 

A. In the third century B.C., about two 
centuries after the Buddha s time. Historians disagree 
as to his exact date, but not very greatly. 

291. Q. What made him great ? 

A. He was the most powerful monarch in 
Indian history, as warrior and as statesman ; but his 
noblest characteristics were his love of truth and justice, 
tolerance of religious differences, equity of government, 
kindness to the sick, to the poor, and to animals. 
His name is revered from Siberia to Ceylon. 

292. Q. Was he bom a Buddhist ? 

A. No, he was converted in the tenth year 
after his anointment as King, by Nigrodha Samanera, 
an Arhat. 

293. Q. What did he do for Buddhism ? 

A. He drove out bad Bhikkus, encouraged 
good ones, built monasteries and dagobas everywhere, 
established gardens, opened hospitals for men and 
animals, convened a council at Patna to revise and 
re-establish the Dharma, promoted female religious 
education, and sent embassies to five Greek kings, 
his allies, and to all the sovereigns of India, to preach the 
doctrines of the Buddha. It was he who built the 
monuments at Kapilavastu, Buddha Gaya, Isipatana 
and Kusinara, our four chief places of pilgrimage, 
besides thousands more. 

294. Q. What absolute proofs exist as to his noble 
character ? 

A. Within recent years there have been 
discovered, in all parts of India, fourteen Edicts of 


his, inscribed on living rocks, and eight on pillars 
erected by his orders. They fully prove him to have 
been one of the wisest and most high-minded sovereigns 
who ever lived. 

295. Q. What character do these inscriptions give 
to Buddhism ? 

A. They show it to be a religion of noble 
tolerence, of universal brotherhood, of righteousness 
and justice. It has no taint of selfishness, sectarianism 
or intolerence. They have done more than anything 
else to win for it the respect in which it is now held by 
the great pandits of western countries. 

296. Q. What most precious gift did pharmdshoka 
make to Buddhism ? 

A. He gave his beloved son, Mahinda, and 
daughter, Sanghamitta, to the Order, and sent them to 
Ceylon to introduce the religion. 

297. Q. Is this fact recorded in the history of Ceylon ? 
A. Yes, it is all recorded in the Mahavansa, 

by the keepers of the royal records, who were then 
living and saw the missionaries. 

298. Q. Is there some proof of Sanghamitfd s 
mission still visible ? 

A. Yes ; she brought with her to Ceylon a 
branch of the very Bodhi under which the Buddha, sat 
vqhen he became Enlightened, and it is still growing. 

299. Q. Where ? 

A. At Anuradhapura. The history of it 
has been officially preserved to the present time. 
Planted in 306 B.C., it is the oldest historical tree in 
the world 


300. Q. Who was the reigning sovereign at that 
time ? 

A. Devanampiyatissa. His consort, Queen 
Anula, had invited Sanghamitta to come and establish 
the Bhikkhuni branch of the Order. 

301. Q. Who came with Sanghamitta ? 

A. Many other Bhikkunis. She, in due time, 
admitted the Queen and many of her ladies, together 
with five hundred virgins, into the Order. 

302. Q. Can we trace the effects of the foreign 
work of the Emperor Ashoktfs missionaries ? 

A. His son and daughter introduced Buddhism 
into Ceylon : his monks gave it to the whole of 
Northern India, to fourteen Indian nations outside its 
boundaries, and to five Greek kings, his allies, with 
whom he made treaties to admit his religious preachers 

303. Q. Can you name them ? 

A. ANTIOCHUS of Syria, PTOLEMY of Egypt, 
ANTIGONUS OF Macedon, MERGAS of Cyrene, and 
ALEXANDER of Epidos. 

304. Q. Where do we learn this ? 

A. From the Edicts themselves of Ashoka 
the Great, inscribed by him on rocks and stone pillars, 
which are still standing and can be seen by everybody 
who chooses to visit the places. 

305. Q. Through what western religious brother 
hoods did the Buddha f>harma mingle itself with western 
thought ? 

A. Through the sects of the Therapeuts of 
Egypt and the Essenes of Palestine. 


306. Q. When were Buddhist books first introduced 
into China ? 

A. As early as the second or third century 
B.C. Five of Dharmashoka s monks are said in the 
Samanta Pasadika and the Sarattha plpanl Two Pali 
books to have been sent to the five divisions of China. 

307. Q. Whence and when did it reach Korea ? 
A. From China, in the year A.D. 372. 

308. Q. Whence and when did it reach Japan ? 
A. From Korea, in A.D. 552. 

309. Q. Whence and when did it reach Cochin, China 
Formosa, Java, Mongolia, York and, Balk, Bokhara, 
Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries ? 

A. Apparently in the fourth and fifth centuries 

310. Q. From Ceylon, whither and when did it 

spread ? 

A. To Burma, in A.D. 450, and thence gra 
dually into Arakan, Kamboja and Pegu. In the 
seventh century (A.D. 638) it spread to Siam, where it is 
now, as it has been always since then, the State religion. 

311. Q. From Kashmir, where else did it spread 

besides to China ? 

A. To Nepal and Tibet. 

312. Q. Why is it that Buddhism, which was once the 
prevailing religion throughout India, now almost extinct 
Jhere ? 

A. Buddhism was at first pure and noble, the 
very teaching of the Tathagata ; its Sangha were virtuous 


and observed the Precepts ; it won all hearts and spread 
joy through many nations, as the morning light sends life 
through the flowers. But after some centuries, bad 
Bhikkhus got ordination (Upasampada) the Sangha be 
came rich, lazy, and sensual the, Dharma was corrupted, 
and the Indian nation abandoned it. 

313. Q. Did anything happen about the ninth or 
tenth century A.D. to hasten its downfall ? 

A. Yes. 

314. Q. Anything besides the decay of spirituality 
the corruption of the Sangha, and the reaction of the 
populace from a higher ideal of man to unintelligent 
idolatry ? 

A. Yes. It is said that the Mussalmans in 
vaded, overran and conquered large areas of India ; 
everywhere doing their utmost to stamp out our religion. 

315. Q. What cruel acts are they charged with 
doing ? 

A. They burnt, pulled down or otherwise 
destroyed our viharas, slaughtered our Bhikkhus, and 
consumed with fire our religious books. 

316. Q. Was our literature completely destroyed in 
India ? 

A. No. Many Bhikkhus fled across the 
borders into Tibet and other safe places of refuge, 
carrying their books with them. 

317. Q. Have any traces of these books been 
recently discovered ? 

A. Yes. Rai Bha/iur Sara I Chandra Das, 
C.I.E., a noted Bengali pandit, saw hundreds of them in 



the vihara libraries of Tibet, brought copies of some of 
the most important back with him, and is now em 
ployed by the Government of India in editing and 
publishing them. 

318. Q. In which country have we reason to believe 
the sacred books of primitive Buddhism have been best 
preserved and least corrupted ? 

A Ceylon. The Encyclopaedia Britannaica 
says that in this island Buddhism has, for specified 
reasons, " retained almost its pristine purity to modern 

319. Q. Has any revision of the text of the Pitakas 
been made in modern times ? 

A. Yes. A careful revision of the Vinaya 
Pitaka was made in Ceylon in the year A.D. 1875, by a 
convention of the most learned Bhikkhus, under the 
presidency of H. Sumangala, Pradhana Sthavira. 

320. Q. Has there been any friendly intercourse in 
the interest of Buddhism between the peoples of the 
Southern and those of the Northern Buddhist countries ? 

A. In the year A.D. 1891, a successful attempt 
was made to get the Pradhana Nayakas of the two great 
divisions to agree to accept fourteen propositions as 
embodying fundamental Buddhistic beliefs recognised 
and taught by both divisions. These propositions, 
drafted by Colonel Olcott, were carefully translated into 
Burmese, Sinhalese and Japanese, discussed one by one, 
unanimously adopted and signed by the chief monks, and 
published in January 1892. 


321. Q. With what good result ? 

A. As the result of the good understanding 
now existing, a number of Japanese bhikkhus and 
samaneras have been sent to Ceylon and India to study 
Pali and Samskrt. 

322. Q. Are there signs that the Buddha Dharma is 
growing in favour in non-Buddhistic countries ? 1 

A. There are. Translations of our more 
valuable books are appearing, many articles in reviews, 
magazines and newspapers are being published, and 
excellent original treatises by distinguished writers are 
coming from the press. Moreover, Buddhist and non- 
Buddhist lecturers are publicly discoursing on Buddhism 
to large audiences in western countries. The Shin Shu 
sect of Japanese Buddhist have actually opened missions 
at Honolulu, San Francisco, Sacramento and other 
American places. 

323. Q. What two leading ideas of ours are chiefly 
taking hold upon the western mind ? 

A. Those of Karma and Reincarnation. The 
rapidity of their acceptance is very surprising. 

324. Q. What is believed to be the explanation of 
this ? 

A. Their appeals to the natural instinct of 
justice, and their evident reasonableness. 

l/ See Appendix. 


325. Q. Has Buddhism any right to be considered 
a scientific religion, or may it be classified its a " reveal 
ed " one ? 

A. Most emphatically it is not a revealed 
religion. The Buddha did not so preach, nor is to be so 
understood. On the contrary, he gave it out as the 
statement of eternal truths, which his predecessors 
had taught like himself. 

326. Q. Repeat again the name of the sutta, in 
which the Buddha tells us not to believe in an alleged 
revelation without testing it by one s reason and 
experience ? 

A. The Kalama Sutta, of the Angutthara 

327. Q. Do Buddhists accept the theory that 
everything has been formed out of nothing by a Creator ? 

A. The Buddha taught that two things are 
causeless, viz., Akasha, and Nirvana. Everything has 
come out of Akasha, in obedience to a law of motion 
inherent in it, and, after a certain existence, passes 
away. Nothing ever came out of nothing. We do 
not believe in miracles ; hence we deny creation, and 
cannot conceive of a creation of something out of 
nothing. Nothing organic is eternal. Everything is 
in a state of constant flux, and undergoing change and 
reformation, keeping up the continuity according to the 
law of evolution. 


328. Q. Is Buddhism opposed to education, and 
to the study of science ? 

A. Quite the contrary : in the Sigdlowada 
Sutta in a discourse preached by the Buddha, He 
specified as one of the duties of a teacher that he should 
give his pupils " instruction in science and lore ". 
The Buddha s higher teachings are for the enlightened, 
the wise, and the thoughtful. 

329. Q. Can you show any further endorsement 
of Buddhism by science ? 

A. The Buddha s doctrine teaches that 
there were many progenitors of the human race ; also 
there there is a principle of differentiation among men ; 
certain individuals have a greater capacity for the 
rapid attainment of Wisdom and arrival at Nirvana 
than others. 

330. Q. Any other ? 

A. Buddhism supports the teaching of the 
indestructibility of force. 

331. Q. Should Buddhism be called a chart of 
science or a code of morals ? 

A. Properly speaking, a pure moral philo 
sophy, a system of ethics and transcendental meta 
physics. It is so eminently practical that the Buddha 
kept silent when Malunkya asked about the origin of 
thing . 

332. Q. Why did he do that ? 

A. Because he thought that our chief aim 
should be to see things as they exist around us and try 
to make them better, not to waste time in intellectual 


333. Q. What do Buddhists say is the reason for the 
occasional birth of very good and wise children of bad 
parents, and that of very bad ones of good parents ? 

A. It is because of the respective Karmas of 
children and parents ; each may have deserved that such 
unusual relationships should be formed in the present 

334. Q. Is anything said about the body of the 
Buddha giving out a bright light ? 

A. Yes, there was a divine radiance sent forth 
from within by the power of his holiness. 

335. Q. What is it called in Pall ? 

A. Buddharansi, the Buddha rays 

336. Q. How many colours could be seen in it ? 
A. Six, linked in pairs. 

337. Q. Their names ? 

A. Nila, Pita, Lohita, Avadata, Mangestd, 

338. Q. Did other persons emit such shining light ? 

A. Yes, all Arhats did and, in fact, the light 
shines stronger and brighter in proportion to the 
spiritual development of the person. 

339. Q. Where do we see these colours represented ? 

A. In all viharas where there are painted 
images of the Buddha. They are also seen in the stripes 
of the Buddhist Flag, first made in Ceylon but now 
widely adopted throughout Buddhist countries. 


340. Q. In which discourse does the Buddha himself 
speak of this shining about him ? 

A. In the Mahd-Prainibbana Sutto, Atlanta his 
favourite disciple, noticing the great splendour which 
came from his Master s body, the Buddha said that on 
two occasions this extraordinary shining occurs, (a) just 
after a Jathagata gains the supreme insight, and (b) on 
the night when he passes finally away. 

341. Q. Where do we read of this great brightness 
being emitted from the body of another Buddha ? 

A. In the story of SumeJha and Dipankara 
Buddha, found in the Nidanakatha of the Jaiaka book, 
or story of the reincarnations of the Bodhisattva Sid- 
dhflrtha Gautama. 

342. Q. How is it described ? 

A. As a halo of a fathom s depth. 

343. What do the Hindus call it ? 

A. Tejas, its extended radiance they call 

344. Q. What do Europeans call it now ? 
A. The human aura. 

345. Q. What great scientist has proved the existence 
of this aura by carefully conducted experiments ? 

A. The Baron Von Reichenbach. His ex 
periments are fully described in his Researches, pub 
lished in 1844-5. Dr. Baraduc, of Paris, has, quite 
recently, photographed this light. 

346. Q. Is this bright aura a miracle or a natural 
phenomenon ? 

A. Natural. It has been proved that not only 
all human beings but animals, trees, plants and even 
stones have it. 


347. Q. What peculiarity has it in the case of a 
Buddha or an Arahat ? 

A. It is immensely brighter and more extended 
than in cases of other beings and objects. It is the evi 
dence of their superior developments in the power of 
Iddhi. The light has been seen coming from dagabos in 
Ceylon where relics of the Buddha are said to be 

348. Q. Do people of other religions besides 
Buddhism and Hinduism also believe in this light ? 

A. Yes, in all pictures of Christian artists this 
light is represented as shining about the bodies of their 
holy personages. The same belief is found to have 
existed in other religions. 

349. Q. What historical incident supports the modern 
theory of hypnotic suggestion ? 

A. That of Chullapanthaka, as told in the Pali 
Commentary on the Dhammapada, etc. 

350. Q. Give me the facts. 

A. He was a bhikkhu who became an Arhat. 
On that very day the Budcjha sent a messenger to call 
him. When the man reach the Vihara, he saw three 
hundred bhikkhus in one group, each exactly like the 
others in every respect. On his asking which was 
Chullapanthaka, every one of the three hundred figures 
replied : "I am Chullapanthaka." 

351. Q. What did the messenger do* 

A. In his confusion he returned and reported 
to the Buddha. 


352. Q. What did the Buddha then tell him ? 

A. To return to the vihara and, if the same 
thing happened, to catch by the arm the first figure who 
said he was Chullapanthaka and lead him to him. The 
Buddha knew that the new Arhat would make this 
display of his acquired power to impress illusionary 
pictures of himself upon the messenger. 

353. Q. What is this power of illusion called in Pali ? 
A. Manomaya IddhL 

354. Q. Were the illusionary copies of the Arahafs 
person material ? Were they composed of substance and 
could they have been full and handled by the messenger ? 

A. No ; they were pictures impressed by his 
thought and trained will-power upon the messenger s 

355. Q. To what would you compare them ? 

A. To a man s reflection in a mirror being 
exactly like him yet without solidity. 

356. Q. To make such an illusion on the messen 
ger s mind, what was necessary ? 

A. That Chullapanthaka should clearly 
conceive in his own mind his exact appearance, and 
then impress that, with as many duplicates or repeti 
tions as he chose, upon the sensitive brain of the 

357. Q. What is this process now called ? 
A. Hypnotic Suggestion. 

358. Q. Could any third party have also seen these 
illusionary figures ? 

A. That would depend on the will of the 
Arhat or hypnotiser. 

359. Q. Wfiat do you mean ? 

A. Supposing that fifty or five hundred per 
sons were there, instead of one, the Arhat could will 


that the illusion should be seen by all alike ; or, if he 
chose, he could will that the mesenger should be the- 
only one to see them. 

360. Q. Is this branch of science well known in 
our day ? 

A. Very well known ; it is familiar to all 
students of mesmerism and hypnotism. 

361. Q. In what does our modern scientific belief 
support the theory of Karma, as taught in Buddhism ? 

A. Modern scientists teach that every 
generation of men is heir to the cosequences of the 
virtues and the vices of the preceding generation, 
not in the mass, as such, but in every individual case. 
Every one of us, according to Buddhism, gets a birth 
which represents the causes generated by him in an 
antecedent birth. This is the idea of Karma. 

362. Q. What says the Vasettha Sutta about the 
causation in Nature ? 

A. It says : " The world exists by cause ; 
all things exist by cause ; all beings are bound by cause. 

363. Q. Does Buddhism teach the unchangeable ss 
of the visible universe ; our earth, the sun, the moon, 
the stars, the mineral, vegetable, animal and human 
kingdoms ? 

A. No. It teaches that all are constantly 
changing, and all must disappear in course of time. 

364. Q. Never to reappear ? 

A. Not so : the principle of evolution, guided 
by Karma, individual and collective, will evolve another 


universe with its contents, as our universe was evolved 
out of the Akflsha. 

365. Q. Does Buddhism admit that man has in 
his nature any latent powers for the production of 
phenomena commonly called " miracles "? 

A. Yes ; but they are natural, not super 
natural. They may be developed by a certain system 
which laid down in our sacred books, Visuddhi Marga 
for instant. 

366. Q. What is this branch of slcence called 7 . 

A. The Pali name is Iddhi-vidhanana. 

367. Q. How many kinds are there ? 

A. Two : Sahfra, i.e., one in which the 
phenomena-working power may be temporarily obtained 
by ascetic practices and also by resort to drugs, the 
recitation of mantras (charms), or other extraneous aids ; 
and Sasaniks, that in which the power in question is 
acquired by interior self-development, and covers all 
and more than the phenomena o* Laukika Iddhi. 

368. Q. What class of men enjoy these powers ? 

A. They gradually develop in one which 
pursues a certain course of ascetic practice called Dhyana. 

369. Q. Can this Iddhi power he lost I 1 

A. The Bahira can be lost, but the Sasanika 
never, when once acquired. Lokottara knowledge once 

1 Sumangala Sthavira explains to me that those transcendent 
powers are permanently possessed only by one who has subdued all 
the passions (Klesci), in other words, an Arhaf. The powers may 
be developed by a bad man and used for doing evil things, but 
their activity is but brief, the revellious passions age in dc rr.h: at the 
sorcerer, and he becomes at last their victim. 


obtained is never lost, and it is by this knowledge only 
that the absolute condition of Nirvana is known by the 
Arhat. And this knowledge can bs got by following 
the noble life of the Eightfold Path. 

370. Q. Had Buddha the Lokottara Iddhl ? 
A. Yes, in perfection. 

371 . Q. And his disciples also had it ? 

A. Yes, some but not all equally ; the capacity 
for acquiring these occult powers varies with the 

372. Q. Give examples ? 

A. Of all the disciples of the Buddha, 
Mogallana was possessed of the most extraordinary 
powers for making phenomena, while Ananda could 
develop none during the twenty-five years in which he 
was the personal and intimate disciple of the Buddha 
himself. Later he did, as the Buddha had foretold he 
would . 

373. Q. Does a man acquire these powers suddenly 
or gradually ? 

A. Normally, they gradually develop them 
selves as the disciple progressively gains control over 
his lower nature in a series of births. 1 

374. Q. Does Buddhism pretend that the miracle of 
rasing those who are dead is possible ? 

A. No. The Buddha teaches the contrary, in 
that beautiful story of Kisa Gotami and the mustard- 

1 When the powers suddenly show themselves, the inference is 
that the individual had developed himself in the next anterior birth. 
We do not believe in eccentric breaks in natural law. 


seed. But when a person only seems to be dead but is 
not actually so, resuscitation is possible. 

375. Q. Give me an idea of these successive stages of 
the Lokottara development in Iddhl ? 

A. There are six degrees attainable by Arhats ; 
what is higher than them is to be reached only by a 

376. Q. Describe the six stages or degreses ? 

A. We may divide them into two groups of, 
three each. The first to include (1) Progressive 
retrospection, viz., a gradually acquired power to look 
backward in time towards the origin of things ; (2) 
Progressive foresight, or power of prophecy ; (3) Gradual 
extinction of desires and attachments to material things. 

377. Q. What would the second group include ? 

A. The same faculties, but inimitably 
developed. Thus, the full Arhat possesses perfect 
retrospection, perfect foresight, and has absolutely 
extinguished the last trace of desireand selfish attractions. 

378. Q. What the four means for obtaining Id^hi ? 

A. The will its exertion, mental development, 
and discrimination between right and wrong. 

379. Q. Our Scriptures relate hundreds of instances 
of phenomena produced by Arhats : what did you say was 
the name of this faculty or power ?- 

A. /(/(//;/ vi<jha. One possessing this can, by 

manipulating the forces of Nature, produce any 

wonderful phenomenon, i.e. r make any scientific 
experiment he chooses. 


380. Q. Did the Buddha encourage displays of 
phenomena ? 

A. No ; he expressly discouraged them as 
tending to create confusion in the minds of those who 
were not acquainted with the principles involved. They 
also tempt their possessors to show them merely to 
gratify idle curiosity and their own vanity. Moreover, 
similar phenomena can be shown by magicians and 
sorcerers learned in the Lauklka, or the baser form o 
Id$hi science. All false pretensions to supernatural 
attainment by monks are among the unpardonable sins 
(Tevijja Sufta). 

381. Q. You spoke of a 6 deva " having appeared to 
the Prince Siddhartha under a variety of forms ; what 
do Buddhists believe respecting races of elemental invisible 
beings having relations with mankind ? 

A. They believe that there are such beings 
who inhabit worlds or spheres of their own. The 
Buddhist doctrine is that, by interior self-development 
and conquest over his baser mature, the Arhat becomes 
superior to even the most formidable of the devas, and 
may subject and control the lower orders. 

382. Q. How many kinds of devas are there ? 

A. Three : Kamavacham (those who are still 
under the domination of the passions) ; Riipdvachara 
(a higher class, which still retain an individual form) : 
Arupdvdchara (the highest in degree of purification, who 
are devoid of material forms). 


383. Q. Should we fear any of them ? 

A. He who is pure and compassionate in 
heart and of a courageous mind need fear nothing : 
no man, god, brahmarakkhas, demon or deva, can 
injure him, but some have power to torment the impure, 
as well as those who invite their approach. 


THE following text of the fourteen items of belief which 
have been accepted as fundamental principles in both 
the Southern and Northern sections of Buddhism, 
by authoritative committees to whom they were sub 
mitted by me personally, have so much historical 
importance that they are added to the present edition 
of THE BUDDHIST CATECHISM as an Appendix. It has 
very recently been reported to me by H. E. Prince 
Ouchtomsky, the learned Russian Orientalist, that 
having had the document translated to them, the Chief 
Lamas of the great Mongolian Buddhist monasteries 
declared to him that they accept every one of the pro 
positions as drafted, with the one exception that the date 
of the Buddha is by them believed to have been some 
thousands of years earlier than the one given by me. 
This surprising fact had not hitherto come to my know 
ledge. Can it be that the Mongolian Sangha confuse 
the real epoch of Sakya Muni with that of his alleged 
next predecessor ? Be this as it may, it is a most 
encouraging fact that the whole Buddhistic world may 
now be said to have united to the extent at least of these 
Fourteen Propositions. 

H. S. O. 


I Buddhists are taught to show the same tolerance, 
forbearance, and brotherly love to all men, without 
distinction ; and an unswerving kindness towards the 
members of the animal kingdom. 


II The universe was evolved, not created ; and its 
functions according to law, not according to the caprice 
of any God. 

III The truths upon which Buddhism is founded 
are natural. They have, we believe, been taught in 
successive kalpas, or world-periods, by certain illu 
minated beings called BUDDHAS, the name BUDDHA 
meaning " Enlightened ". 

IV The fourth Teacher in the present kalpa was 
Sakya Muni, or Gautama Buddha , who was born in a 
Royal family in India about 2,500 years^ago. He is an 
historical personage and his name was Sid^hartha 

V Sakya Muni taught that ignorance produces 
desire, unsatisfied desire is the cause of rebirth, and 
rebirth, the cause of sorrow. To get rid of sorrow 
therefore, it is necessary to escape rebirth ; to escape 
rebirth, it necessary to extinguish desire ; and to extin 
guish desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance. 

VI Ignorance fosters the belief that rebirth is a 
necessary thing. When ignorance is destroyed the 
worthlessness of every such rebirth, considered as an 
end in itself, is perceived, as well as the paramount 
need of adopting a course of life by which the necessity 
for such repeated rebirths can be abolished. Ignorance 
also begets the illusive and illogical idea that there is 
only one existence for man, and the other illusion that 

~this -one life is -folio wed" by -states of -unchangeable 
pleasure or torment. 


VII The dispersion of all this ignorance can be 
attained by the perservering preactice of an all embracing 
altruism in conduct, development of intelligence, wisdom 
in thought, and destruction of desire for the lower 
personal pleasures. 

VIII The desire to live being the cause of rebirth, 
when that is extinguished rebirths cease and the perfected 
individual attains by meditation that highest state of 
peace called Nirvana. 

IX Sakya Muni taught that ignorance can be dispelled 
and sorrow removed by the knowledge of the four 
Noble Truths, viz. : 

1 . The miseries of existence ; 

2. The cause productive of misery, which is the 

desire ever renewed of satisfying oneself 
without being able ever to secure that end ; 

3. The destruction of that desire, or the estranging 

of oneself from it ; 

4. The means of obtaining this destruction of 

desire. The means which he pointed out is 
called the Noble Eightfold Path, viz. : Right 
Belief ; Right Thought ; Right Speech ; Right 
Action ; Right Means of Livelihood ; Right 
Exertion ; Right Remembrance ; Right 

& " . :- : i L f:..; v /icUU; SilJ . -..- ;; - f .h 

X Right Meditation leads to spiritual enlightenment, 
or the development of that Bu44ha-like faculty which is 
latent in every man. 


XI The essence of Buddhism, as summed up by the 
Tathagatha (Buddha) himself, as : 

To cease from all sin, 

To get virtue, 

To purifiy the heart. 

XII The universe is subject to a natural causation 
known as "Karma". The merits and demerits of a 
being in past existences determine his condition in the 
present one. Each man, therefore, has prepared the 
causes of the effects which he now experiences. 

XIII The obstacles to the attainment of good karma 
may be removed by the observance of the following pre 
cepts, which are embraced in the moral code of Bud 
dhism, viz : (1) Kill not ; (2) Steal not ; (3) Indulge in no 
forbidden sexual pleasure ; (4) Lie not ; (5) Take no in 
toxication or s upefying drug or liquor. Five other pre 
cepts which used not be here enumerated should be 
observed by th se who would attain, more quickly than 
the average layman, the release from misery and rebirth. 

XIV Buddhism discourages superstitious credulity. 
Gautama Buddha taught it to be the duty of a parent to 
have his child educated in science and literature. He 
also taught that no one should bslieve what is spoken by 
any sage, written in any book, or affirmed by tradition, 
unless it accord with reason. 

Drafted as a common platform upon which all 
Buddhists can agree. 



Respectfully submitted for the approval of the High 
Priests of the nations which we severally represent, in the 
Buddhist Conference held at Adyar, Madras, on the 
8th, 9th, 10th, llth, and 12th of January, 1891 (A.B. 

Japan . . |Kozen Gunaratana 

\Chiezo Tokuzawa 

Burmah . . U. Hmoay Tha Aung 

Ceylon . . Dhammapala Hevavitarana 

The Maghs of 

Chittagong . . Krshna Chandra Chowdry, by his 
appointed Proxy, Maung The 


Approved on behalf of the Buddhists of Burmah, this 
3rd day of February, 1891 (A.B. 2434) : 

Tha-tha-na-baing Saydawgyi ; Aung Myi Shwebon 
Sayadaw ; Me-ga-waddy Sayadaw ; Hmat-Khaya 

Sayadaw ; Hti-lin Sayadaw ; Myadaung Sayadaw ; Hla- 
Hvwe Sayadaw ; and sixteen others. 


Approved on behalf of the Buddhists of Ceylon 
this 25th day of February, 1891 (A. B. 2434 ; Mahanu- 
wara upawasatha Pusparama viharadhipati Hippola 
Phamrna Rakkhita Sobhitabhidhana Maha Nayaka 
Sthayirayan wahanse wamha. 

(Hippola Dhamma Rakkhita Sibhitabhidhana, High 
Priest of the Malwatta Vihare at Kandy. 

(Sd.) HippOLA 


Mahanuwara Asgiriviharadhipati Yatawatte Chanda- 
jottyabhidhana Maha Nayaka Sthavirayan wahanse 
wamha (Yatawatte Chandajottyabhidhana, High 
Priest of Asgiri Vihare at Kandy). 


Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Sripadasthane saha 
Kolamba palate pradhana Nayaka Sthavirayo (Hikka 
duwe Sri Sumangala, High Priest of Adam s Peak and 
the District of Colombo), 


Maligawe Prachma Pustakalayadhyakshaka Surlya- 
goda Sonuttara Sthavirayo (Suriyagoda Sonuttara, 
Librarian of the Oriental Library at the Temple of the 
Tooth Relic at Knady). 


Sugata Sasanadhaja Vinaya chariya Dhammalan- 
karabhidhana Nayaka Sahavira. 


Pawara neruttika chariya Maha Vibhavi Subhuti 
of Waskaduwa. 




Accepted as included within the body of Northern 

Shaku Genyu (Shingon Shu) 

Fukuda Nichiyo (Nichiren ,, ) 

Sanada Seyko (Zen ) 

Ito QuanShyu ( ) 

Takehana Hakuyo (Jodc ) 

Kono Rioshin (Ji-Shu ) 

Kiro Ki-ko (Jodo Ssizan,,) 

Harutani Shinsho (Tendhi ) 

Manabe Shnn-myo (Shingon ,, ) 


Accepted for the Buddhists of Chittagong. 
Nagawa Parvata Viharadhipati 

Guna Megu Wini-Linkam, 

Harbing, Chittagong, Bengal. 


THE BUDDHIST CATECHISM has been compiled from 
personal studies in Ceylon, and in part from the 
following works : 

Vinaya Texts 

Buddhist Literature in China 

Catena of Buddhist Scriptures -. . 

Buddhaghosd s Parables 

Buddhist Birth Stones 

Legend of Gautama 

Chinese Buddhism 

Kalpa Sutra and Nava Patva 

Buddha and Early Buddhism 

Sutta Nipata 


Kusa Jataka 



Romantic History of Buddha 


Twelve Japanese Buddhist Sects. 

The Gospel of Buddha 

The Dharma .. 

Ancient India 

The " Sacred Books of the East " 

Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Davids and Olden- 




Fausboll and Davids. 





Sir Coomaraswami. 




Fausboll and Max 



B. Nanjio. 

Paul Carus. 

Paul Carus. 

R. C. Dutt. 

Max Muller s 


AUG > 4199T